With an emotionally charged election year upon us, many issues have been brought to the forefront and some are demanding change. Issues such as racial tension, police brutality, and inequalities within the judicial system don’t affect everyone, but for many, it’s an all too familiar script that’s being read generation after generation. A nation that has been a safe haven for refugees and those escaping extreme turmoil within their home countries, may not feel like that happy place they once imagined in their mind. Some days, it feels like we have become a country divided among politics and skin color. Conversations that were once taboo in the workplace are now common topics of discussion. Seeing friends (both black and white) post suggestively racist comments is becoming the norm. So, what are people of color supposed to do? Shall we sit in silence, bite our tongues, and continue to accept sub par treatment from our peers, supervisors, coaches, etc.?
When will it be OK for us to take a stand and set our standards of respect or how we would like to be treated in a world that often feels unfair and/or bias?
Amidst all of the tensions and renewed level of blatant inequality, some celebrities have chosen to take a stand and speak out. We saw Beyonce perform at last year’s half time show for the Superbowl. Not many were happy with her decision to emulate the Black Panthers in her choice of wardrobe and fists in the air. I read a few times that football is an American sport and racially charged messages have no place on national television where children might be watching. But, what about black children that deal with injustices daily? Recently, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has been receiving backlash for sitting down during the national anthem. When asked why, he was very honest in that he doesn’t feel comfortable saluting something that’s supposed to represent freedom and equality, but doesn’t represent that for everyone in the country. Some felt that it was disrespectful to those fighting for our freedom(s) and making the ultimate sacrifice. I was even told that it could be worse in other countries so blacks must consider what their lives could be like elsewhere (and I’m paraphrasing this in a nice way).
My response to anyone that disagrees with Kaepernick’s choice to not salute the American flag is simple: Do you really care if he sits or stands? If someone really finds his stance on the issue that offensive, I’d have to remind them that not everyone’s experience is the same. There may be people who never know what it feels like to be profiled in public or called a racial slur. Some will never know what it is like to have to work twice as hard just to be on the same level as their peers. Does everyone really know what it’s like to have to smile more often or change the way they speak just so coworkers or supervisors don’t find their mannerisms aggressive or offensive? The answer is no. Simply put, your America may be different than another person’s America. But, in the end, we should all want it to be ONE America that we can be proud of.