Social Media, Kaepernick, and You

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kapMillions of people are talking about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem. But what exactly does his protest prove?

On social media, two basic opinions abound. One opinion is that Kaepernick’s actions are justified; that his protest somehow helps people who are oppressed by systemic, institutional racism and white supremacy. The other dominant opinion is that it’s ridiculous for a professional athlete and millionaire to identify with either the actual or perceived oppression of blacks in America.

Regardless of your opinion, once you log off social media and return to actuality, (if you ever do) you’re left with yourself alone. And what does Kaepernick have to do with YOU?

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who follow sports religiously, you might feel justified in being outraged and  outspoken against the athlete. Whether you believe Kaepernick’s protest is outrageous or outstanding, you have something in common with the opposing side in this debate: You’re discussing the NFL.

You might say, “I’m discussing racism” or “entitlement”–not football. But a discussion about Kaepernick is a discussion about celebrity, wealth, popularity, and yes, football.

How many times, in your ACTUAL LIFE,  have you glanced around the room during the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance to see how many dissenters were present? And when you caught someone “protesting,” did you take a stand and publicly denounce his or her actions? Did you applaud the person and stand in unity and defiance against the corruption that is “AmeriKKKa”? Furthermore, when was the last time you saw or heard racism in an offline environment? Were you the victim or the perpetrator? A bystander? What did you do? Oh. That’s right: You vented about it on social media.

The average reader will be tempted to turn the discussion back to Kaepernick, but let’s focus on YOU for a moment. Do you use racial slurs in private? Do you secretly hate America for its history of colonialism? Do you wish black people would shut up about being “oppressed?” Do you wish white people would shut up about black people needing to shut up about being “oppressed?”

As people engage in virtual arguments about whether racism exists or not, the greater argument is internal and secretive: “Am I a racist? Am I a victim of racism? Am I both? Will racism ever end? Do I care? Should I care?”

Whether you believe Kaepernick’s protest is appropriate or ignorant, arguing with your friends and associates is “taking the easy way out.” (Posting memes supporting either opinion qualifies as arguing.) Very few people acknowledge that the most important argument is against the self: “Am I oppressed? Am I an oppressor? Am I good? Am I bad? Who am I?”

The nationwide outcry about Kaepernick’s protest proves that sports matter. Football matters. Celebrities matter. Whether or not black lives, blue lives, white lives, or “all” lives matter–and to what degree, and in what order, has yet to be determined. In the meantime, football continues to trend.

 

 

 

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Indigentitis: The Answer to Affluenza

Affluenza defense: A slap in the face to poor convicts.

Affluenza defense: A slap in the face to poor convicts.

The “affluenza defense” made headlines recently when 16-year old, rich, white Texan, Ethan Couch, was found not guilty of killing the four people who died during his drunken joyride when he lost control of his vehicle. Avoiding a 20-year prison sentence, Couch’s Attorney argued that the teen can’t be held responsible for his actions because the nature of his rich life was such that his parents imposed no limits or restrictions; he was allowed to run wild. Therefore his actions were not his fault.

Teen drunk-driver Ethan Couch was given probation instead of jail-time after killing the victims above, because his wealthy upbringing affected his judgement and decision-making skills.

Teen drunk-driver Ethan Couch was given probation instead of jail-time after killing the victims above, because his wealthy upbringing affected his judgement and decision-making skills.

Whether critics agree or disagree with the “poor little rich kid” defense, it worked. Ethan was sentenced to ten years of probation. The courts have ruled that Ethan’s wealthy upbringing negatively influenced his ability to make wise, safe, responsible decisions. This ruling begs the question, “What about indigent youth, whose decision-making skills are, likewise, influenced by their upbringing?

Case in point: The Trayvonn Martin murder trial, which seemed to be an inquisition into the morals, habits and character of the deceased, rather than those of his assailant, featured tales of the N-word, stories about marijuana, and images of hooded sweatshirts, which, to some people, are threatening and indicate a hoodlum or thug. Why were these issues breached during the trial?

When Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvonn, it was because the jury believed Zimmerman was defending himself from a thug. But what if Trayvonn was socialized to fear non-blacks; that they kill young men like himself? Indigentitis.

When Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvonn, it was because the jury believed Zimmerman was defending himself from a thug. But what if Trayvonn was socialized to fear non-blacks; to believe that whites and other races kill young men like himself? Maybe he fought Zimmerman because he feared for his life. Why? Indigentitis causes black men to swing/shoot first, and ask questions later, when confronted on the streets.

George Zimmerman’s defense team successfully cast Trayvonn Martin as a threat. The jury became convinced that Zimmerman shot Trayvonn to save his own life. So the unspoken conclusion; that a black youth in a hoodie is dangerous, grew legs. Young black men haven’t felt safe on the streets since the verdict was rendered.

What does this have to do with Indigentitis? Indigentitis is the inflammation of tensions after prolonged exposure to poverty and injustices. Indigentitis can also be described as, “actions resulting from an upbringing wrought with poverty, destruction and death.”

Suppose Trayvonn Martin called Zimmerman a “creepy cracker,” to his face, and stalked Zimmerman down with the intent to kill before being killed? Indigentitis? Black men in America have seen themselves enslaved, lynched, hosed, beaten, raped, murdered, jailed and utterly degraded and disrespected for no reason other than the color of their skin. Poor black people. No wonder they stand at the ready to riot whenever a grave miscarriage of justice takes place. They suffer from indigentitis. Should anyone be surprised that black dollars are spent almost exclusively on entertainment, Jordan tennis shoes, depreciating cars and flashy jewelery? Say it slowly: Indigentitis; the urge to spend every dollar you acquire on material items that impress other poor people in your neighborhood.

Sometimes ghetto residents are killed for money, clothing, jewelry, or Jordans; indigentitis.

Sometimes ghetto residents are killed for money, clothing, jewelry, or Jordans.  Indigentitis causes an overwhelming urge to obtain flashy tennis shoes, clothing and jewelry by ANY MEANS NECESSARY, even robbery and murder.

When little Tameka is expelled from school after being caught in the act of theft, will the police bother to question her parents; the ones who taught little Tameka to steal bread and meat from the grocery store; because stealing is a means of EATING? Will little Tameka be sentenced to 10 years of hard time behind bars? Or will an attorney step forward to plead her indigentitis defense? Indigentitis causes people to steal on instinct to avoid hunger, starvation and death.

Is affluenza real? Obviously it’s real if its diagnosis prevented a 16-year old rich kid from going to prison after his wreckless driving caused four people to die and another to be paralyzed. Instead of arguing against the affluenza defense, maybe concerned citizens should advocate the indigentitis defense. That way, teenagers who sell drugs because they are surrounded by suggestions to do so, can be re-educated and counseled after successfully arguing  indigentitis. As it stands, poor teens and young adults are being sentenced to long terms in prison, which facilitates the vicious cycle of indigence…

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Billion-dollar corporations (record labels, television and radio broadcasters) spend unspeakable amounts of money promoting drug-dealing, while indigent black men are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate. Can drug dealers use indigentitis as a defense, since an entire economy and culture socializes them to sell drugs?

Sure, each person is responsible for his or her own behavior, but if Ethan Couch can blame his upbringing for his mistakes, so can anyone else. For instance, Chris Brown has repeatedly confessed that he witnessed his mother’s abuse at the hands of his father. Yet when he becomes involved in a domestic assault case, he is not shown leniency, nor is he given the opportunity to blame his upbringing. Why not?

And finally, what about the issue of slavery? Any fool can see that black Americans have a HARD TIME escaping poverty, drugs, miseducation, lack of education, violence, AIDS, sexual and physical abuse…the list goes on and on. Why are black people perceived to be more “loud” and “violent” and “aggressive” and “ghetto” than other races? Could it be the fact that blacks as a people were beaten, killed, raped, stolen, bought, sold, worked to the bone, abused, harrassed, and labeled inferior? Could it be that the entire black race suffers, in one form or another, from indigentitis. Sure, some black people are wealthy. But for the ones who are still poor, can indigentitis be used as a viable defense for stealing, killing, and etc? Can Kwame Kilpatrick argue affluenza? What about political family-enza?

Many people joke about Chris Brown's abuse of Rihanna, but Chris Brown was raised in a household where the woman was beaten. No, he didn't get counseling. No, he never "got past it." He repeated the behavior he saw from birth to his teen years. Indigentitis?

Many people joke about Chris Brown’s abuse of Rihanna, but Chris Brown was raised in a household where the woman was beaten. No, he didn’t get counseling. No, he never “got past it.” He repeated the behavior he saw from birth to his teen years. Indigentitis?