Colin Kaepernick and the Monday-Morning Quarterbacking of Black Protest

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, middle, kneels during the national anthem before the team's NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, middle, kneels during the national anthem before the team’s NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego.

Well, that didn’t last long, did it? Not even a week after snatching every potential outlet and headline possible, Colin Kaepernick’s protest has essentially come to an end. His stance, which was never about the National Anthem but about using the moment at the beginning of NFL games to serve as a quiet reminder that the country still hasn’t fulfilled the promise of an equitable society for its black and brown citizens, drew the ire of players, military men and women, pundits inside and outside the game, and tons of everyday citizens. After a conversation earlier this week with Nate Boyer, a former green beret and an NFL player himself, the 49ers QB has come out stating that he’ll now kneel during the National Anthem, a conciliatory gesture that comes as a result of talking with Boyer. He started the kneel practice Thursday night in San Diego during the National Anthem and has stated that he’ll also donate the first $1 million dollars of this season’s earnings to social justice organizations.

This ordeal will likely represent a win for the NFL, an organization that has consistently proven more adept at suppressing social issues than addressing them. The artful thing here is that the latest update keeps the conversation bottled on two things in the public’s mind: Kaepernick’s choice and patriotism. Those are two issues that the public (and the league) can cleanly cleave; even the intervention of Boyer confirms that this was still a tightly controlled message about the “what” of the protest, not the “why.” Read more »

Hey Donald Trump, African Americans Heard You Loud and Clear

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Late last week, in his umpteenth “foot in mouth” moment, Donald J. Trump rhetorically asked African Americans a question that in my mind perfectly synthesized this election and Trump’s used car salesman pitch. “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Donald Trump?”  Read more »

Rendell: Disband Clinton Foundation (If Hillary Wins)

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Ed Rendell has been an enjoyable sideshow this campaign season: He’s essentially retired from politics — he’s not going to run for anything again — so he’s pretty much allowed to say whatever he wants. He can go off message. He can say “there are some things that Donald Trump talks about that do have a germ of reason or a germ of truth,” or mention on a radio show the FBI’s findings have damaged Clinton, or he can tell Buzzfeed the Democrats are $10 million short for the DNC. Rendell has commented several times to Buzzfeed, in fact! He is the world’s oldest millennial.

Today, Rendell is talking to the New York Daily News about the Clinton Foundation. Read more »

What Simone Manuel’s Gold Medal Comments Say About Race in America

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The #blacklivesmatter movement has been no stranger to controversy. In its short existence it has garnered a reputation for being anti-American, a race-baiting organization, and, most recently — tapping into the fear zeitgeist for many white Americans — a domestic sleeper cell of terrorists. Reaction to #blacklivesmatter has at times even transcended racial identity, with critics accusing it of being “uncoordinated,” “loud” and “ineffective,” or reducing its most visible torchbearers — the protestors who have clogged everything from highways to brunch spots, to city hall, to the DNC — with derisive claims that they are shiftless, unthinking, unemployed, idealistic people with lots of energy and little planning in much the same way that the country has discredited other system disruptors like the Bernie and Occupy camps.

It has also spawned another type of reaction too; the most popular combative rhetorical retorts to #blacklivesmatter have been across-the-aisle brand battle cries of #alllivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter. It’s made the conversation around it all feel like we’re wading into increasingly turbulent waters while one side yells “Marco!” and the other side yells “Polo!,” all resulting in a stalemate. That the conversation on race now feels inescapable for folks only begins the long road toward empathy about the everyday experience for many Black Americans who feel we’ve had no choice but to navigate this country’s implicit and explicit unequal racial codes. From schools, to employment, to voting, to police interactions, it’s always been a sink-or-swim experience for us, and given the racial animus here, it’s often felt more like sinking. To quote David Foster Wallace (out of context): “this is water.”

That’s what I thought about when 20-year-old Simone Manuel emerged from the pool — breaking the surface and making history when she not only set a new Olympic record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle swimming, but also became the first African-American female to win gold in an individual swimming event.  Read more »

Want Khizr Khan to Run for Office? Donate Here.

Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan and his wife Ghazala speak during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016.

Khizr Khan, whose son died serving the country, delivered a blistering speech about Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Khizr Khan, a Muslim-American gold-star father, has done more than almost anyone this year to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the country’s first orange dictator. And some Americans are so impressed with Khan that they want him to run for office.

On Wednesday, U.S. Army Vietnam veteran Tom Keefe nominated Khan to run for the Virginia General Assembly on Crowdpac.

Crowdpac is the Kickstarter of politics. On the website, you can nominate anyone you’d like to run for office, with or without their permission. Supporters can then pledge money to the nominee’s campaign, but their credit cards will be charged only if the nominee decides to run. Read more »

About Last Week: Two Particularly Telling Moments From Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke’s RNC Speech

David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis., salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

David Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis., salutes after speaking during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Last Monday night, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke took the center stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Clarke has been on a tear of late. A known opponent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the previous night he battled CNN anchor Don Lemon on what he’s come to see as “rising anti-police rhetoric that I predicted two years ago” in the wake of events like Michael Brown and the subsequent Ferguson protests. On that night, Clarke was a relentless, rhetorical soldier, and Lemon was forced to not only go to commercial break, but to also try and steer (and calm) Clarke as he rambled across topics like “black on black crime,” police killings and Black Lives Matter while attempting to debunk the current narrative around disproportionate policing happening in black and brown communities.  Read more »

Brian Sims: Mike Pence’s Anti-LGBT Views Would Further Divide Us

Brian Sims, Mike Pence

Brian Sims, Mike Pence

This is an opinion piece by Pennsylvania Representative Brian Sims.

No Gays Allowed.”

Governor Mike Pence proudly signed into law legislation that allowed business to refuse service or discriminated against LGBT Americans. Yes — the Mike Pence who is Donald Trump’s running mate and the most extreme pick for vice president in a generation.

As Governor, Mike Pence used his leadership to alienate businesses and divide communities with his spiteful actions against the LGBT community when he spearheaded this discriminatory legislation. The law allowed people to continue spreading hatred, deny services and discriminate against LGBT Americans.  Read more »

What It Was Like to Watch the Turkish Coup Attempt Unfold

People gathered in Taksim Square in Istanbul to protest against the attempted coup, watch a pre-recorded video message by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, early Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

People gathered in Taksim Square in Istanbul to protest against the attempted coup, watch a pre-recorded video message by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, early Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

In the hours before Friday’s attempted coup, I was focused on how to keep moving forward with a manuscript, based on the dissertation I finished at the University of Pennsylvania’s department of Folklore and Folklife. Over the years I lived in Philadelphia, I called several neighborhoods of this city — most recently Bella Vista — home, and traveled back and forth to Turkey. In the hours following the coup attempts, dear friends and former professors reached out on electronic media, bridging our divide.  Read more »

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