Taking A Knee

NFL Football is Still a Thing.

I love NFL football. I have grown up watching with wonderment, feeling privileged to go to a hometown game or two most years. Early on, my father split season tickets with a co-worker. Remembrances of a December birthday during one of the coldest, nastiest games of the year – our snow suits and watery hot chocolate in tow – blanket and inform my allegiance.

The appeal of American football, though, has waned: annoyance and poor performance and business and business. My friends became busy as well, draining the once sought after joy of watching as a community. Nursing school, physiological knowledge, and Thailand helped even less in restarting a Bears’ late-quarter resurgence.

The Kaepernick Thing is a Thing.

I was never a huge fan of Colin Kaepernick. He frustrated defenses and was interviewed while wearing “Beats by Dre”. Currently, as a player without a guaranteed starting position, he has decided to kneel down to demonstrate a shaken soul. His chosen profession necessitates developing personal talent and physical prowess. Now, he kneels in deference to what matters in his heart.

What I Have Learned About Colin Kaepernick.

This week, I learned that Colin was a good student and stand-out athlete in multiple sports – brought up by adoptive white parents. He is being attacked and discredited as privileged, not-black-enough, and anti-military.

Before condemning him, I recommend listening to thoughts provided by Politically Reactive. Privilege can be problematic, but perhaps gives a clearer view to localized and salient racism.


My belief is that #BlackLivesMatter is tenuous because, for the privileged, it is the white noise (no pun intended) of the everyday racism present in American society. It started as an innocuous plea that revealed the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The hubris inherent within the reaction of the American privileged propelled the movement. A movement:

  • highlighting the implied words some groups hear when voices speak (as in the 'white/blue lives don't matter' that drew the ire of white communities)
  • pointing out how people are consistently treated differently based on skin color
  • revealing the rhetoric of media and politicians as fueling flames of division
  • showing requests of equality by some are met with resistance due to an ingrained fear of loss of power by others
  • spotlighting how good people on both sides have been groomed to be blind and/or complicit in a society that has been designed to divide, subjugate, and pit against each other poor people of all skin colors

As part of a certain class in America, it is also frustrating to believe that I carry so much privilege at a time when success, opportunity, and wealth are dissolving at ever evolving rates.

Back to Kaepernick

I pause to think about Colin’s statement:

“There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder” (NyPost.com).

His statement speaks to a complex intersection of systems. Yes, police officer training appears biased and insufficient. Indeed, there may be a cyclical problem of policing tied to a loss of institutional knowledge upon officer retirement. This does not shift the paradigm that black men in the streets are assumed guilty and shot at, while the presumed innocence of the offending officer is retained.

But More White People Are Killed by Police.

My initial reaction is that if this encourages a person to join the charge against extra-judicial killings by police, then by all means. I worry, though, about a preponderance of people joining a cause calling for a change in policing which shifts the narrative away from racism to the narrower focus of police education and tactics.

Our societal problems are extremely complex. At some point, I believe that we will need to stop blaming the behaviors of individuals to justify unjust actions against them. Counterintuitively, choosing to blame behaviors assumes the person has agency in their decisions and behaviors and validates otherness. Ultimately, the “choices” of at-risk America are not those of the privileged class.


“Poverty as a dynamic force requires individuals to reprioritize their lives based on survival, often at the expense of well-being,”(Margaret Connors, Women Poverty and Aids - Sex, Drugs, and Structural Violence).

Moving Forward.

I would like to envision a future where we all kneel – in our own metaphorically discarded light beer and nachos – then, subsequently, stand up with Colin.  A conversation begun and ended.

The most important growth happens when we venture into the uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable conversations - training for the discomfort of a future with more equality.

Special Thanks

The following podcasts deserve credit for inspiring thought and/or helping me form and organize my opinions.

Subscribe Now