Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Selective patriotism

5th February 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

The Associated Press reported last week that 56 of the 56 Black NFL players the news organization polled at the recent Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida said that they or someone they know has been racially profiled by police. That’s how far we’ve come as a nation in the 50 years that have passed since the historic Civil Rights Movement.

Since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to kneel down during the national anthem to protest police brutality, social injustice and bigotry in the U,.S. in 2016, an increasing number of athletes of color have been willing to speak out about what they see and experience as people of African descent in America.

“You can probably ask any Black man out here and the answer is yes,” Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson told The Associated Press. “It’s not like this is just starting today or a new thing. It’s gone on for a long time. I think African-American men have been (victims) of racial profiling for a long time, by either the things they wear or just by the color of their skin.”

Like many people of color in the U.S., Black athletes have felt compelled to do something to raise awareness of the murders of unarmed and innocent Black and Brown people since the officer-involved killings of people like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Freddie Gray and Eric Garner.

“That was the main thing with the protests, to bring awareness so people know what’s going on,” Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey told The Associated Press. “That’s the first step to trying to fix the situation.”

Some of the athletes polled by The Associated Press said the issue of racial profiling and police brutality is very personal for them.

“It happened to my wife in the past couple of years,” Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was drafted in 2010, said. “She got pulled over. She was driving a Bentley. Nice neighborhood, and they pulled her over. All her stuff was right and they just didn’t have any reason. It just wasn’t right.”

“My dad, when I was growing up … gun to his head and everything,” Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye told The Associated Press. “That’s why it hits close to me. We know that there are issues going on, and maybe some people don’t want to bring awareness to them, but we’ll find a way.”

Meanwhile, there are still those who vilify these players and question their patriotism because of their decision to take a knee during the national anthem. Many of these critics blame the NFL for “allowing” football players to exercise their First Amendment rights and have relentlessly tried to equate taking a knee with disrespecting America and its military veterans despite veterans who say they support these athletes’ right to take a knee and voice their opinion.

Meanwhile, these so-called patriots say nothing about Confederate symbols and flags being waved and worn in the U.S., even though the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of treason and represents a concerted effort to overthrow the U.S. government. Go figure.

Anyway, I got some questions for y’all. Here we go:

• While President Donald Trump was quick to “set rapper Jay-Z straight” about the president’s alleged success with lowering the Black unemployment rate in the U.S., why hasn’t Trump acknowledged or addressed white rapper Eminem’s less-than-flattering words about the president and his bigoted policies and remarks?

• Will you be able to look at the Muses parade the same way after some of its members had to be told by the organization not to throw any “Forever Lee Circle” beads or any other Confederate-themed throws?

• What do you think about the persistent rumors about a certain mayor and congressman linking efforts behind the scenes to discredit and undermine Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell as she continues to prepare to take office and deal with the ongoing probe of her use of a city-issued credit card?

• Why is Cantrell the only member of the New Orleans City Council whose use of a city-issued credit card is being so closely scrutinized?

• What do you make of speculation that the business community and state officials are seeking to “criminalize” and marginalize Mayor-elect Cantrell so that she would be easier to control and manipulate once she is sworn in?

• What grade would you give the Landrieu administration for its handling of last year’s flooding and problems at the New Orleans Sewerate & Water Board this winter?

• Why do all the watchdog groups continue to allow the City of New Orleans and the Sewerage & Water Board to get away with using an “emergency” tag to avoid giving local minority contractors access to public contracts?

• Why wouldn’t the City of New Orleans and the Sewerage & Water Board buy new turbines and other equipment after FEMA gave New Orleans hundreds of millions of dollars to do precisely that, and why haven’t any elected officials said anything about it until last year’s flooding episodes?

• Does President Donald Trump think mentioning a Black family with members who were killed by Mexican immigrants would convince Black Americans to abandon efforts to shield undocumented immigrants from the oppressive and draconian tactics and policies of his administration?

• Didn’t Trump’s “Americans are Dreamers too” statement sound an awful lot like those misguided folks who go around shouting “all lives matter” every time they hear the phrase “Black Lives Matter”?

• Why do so many artists of color still think that they haven’t accomplished anything until they receive a Grammy, Oscar or Emmy Award?

• If everything Black people have is so defective and inferior, why do so many people around the world hang on our every word and spend so much time, energy and effort trying to emulate us?

This article originally published in the February 5, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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