This post has been brewing since the end of May, but I didn’t have the words until last night. Not until I sat through BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s new Joint.
Way back in May, my friend Chris Payne said these words on Facebook, in reference to this ESPN article:
This solidifies my not watching indefinitely. The NFL is more concerned with optics and their bottom line than the issue behind the protest. This isn’t patriotism or respect for the flag. This is disingenuous and I call BS. This also shows that the NFL doesn’t value or care about the issues facing people of color. Smdh
If you choose to watch more power to you but if you call yourself a patriot but won’t stand up for the right to protest, check yourself.
I agree with Chris 100% on all counts.
A friend of his responded as follows, and that’s what prompted this post:
People pay to watch a football game, but not necessarily to watch a protest. While the players may be the stars of the game, it’s a stretch to say that they alone built the industry … and if you really want to get technical, there’s a whole lot more to this country built on the backs of minorities than just football.
I personally don’t need the NFL to remind me of our country’s inequities … I grew up right in the middle of all of it … and the fact that as an adult I’m more likely to be given a warning at 20 miles over the speed limit than a ticket (or pulled out of my vehicle) isn’t lost on me.
Or shot to death. Which is why they take a knee.
The unfortunate truth is that simply taking a knee before a football game isn’t enough … If the NFL wanted to back their players, they would stop taking DOD money for the first 15 minutes of their televised broadcast.
I agree, to a point. A unified protest, across the entire NFL, would help get the point across to management and maybe even the fans. But it doesn’t stop with the NFL and it doesn’t stop with protests every time an unarmed person of color dies at the hands of summary justice meted out at the hands of a cop instead of the American justice system.
At the heart of the debate:
Newseum: Patriotism, Respect for Flag Cannot be ‘Ordered’
It’s a well-documented fact that there is a deep rooted connection between white supremacy and the police. If the NRA gave a good Goddamn about gun ownership, they’d have been all over Philando Castile’s murderer. To date there’s been nothing but silence.
I call disingenuous bullshit.
You can’t pretend that the Second Amendment applies to everyone. That’s an absolute lie. It’s a lie that’s killing people of color and our children in schools, and I won’t stand for it.
When Ronald Reagan signed California’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulford_Act, he was restricting access to guns in the hands of black men. When white supremacists marched last year in Charlottesville, police stepped aside and quickly lost control of the situation. It’s not an isolated problem, either.
The Sydney Morning Herald: In the US, white supremacists have infiltrated police and military to get weapons training
Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC): Time to weed out white supremacist officers, N.C. councillor says after police beating
The Guardian: California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue ‘anti-racist’ activists, documents show
And that brings me to Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, which hit movie screens last week.
Ron Stallworth’s story is real. I listened to him tell his story to Scott Simon on Weekend Edition back at the beginning of June. The movie is based on the book but with some fictionalized elements.
You can read the NY Times review here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/movies/blackkklansman-review-spike-lee.html
I’ve never felt such a contemporary connection to a period piece.
If you’ve been reading my writing, you know I’ve said before that I’m Jewish, not white. I pass. If you never understood why, this movie will drive my point right home.
Interspersed with the crane shot from Gone with the Wind, the opening scene features Alec Baldwin as Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard, a fictional placeholder for the classic white racist as he sputters and rants his way through a newsreel-style movie clip.
This is the summary from the IMDB entry, of that first scene:
The film starts with a small video of a battlefield with the bodies of Confederate soldiers lying everywhere as some try to help those wounded while others mourn over the dead. It then cuts to another video from Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard (Alec Baldwin), who launches into a racist tirade of how African Americans are taking over the country and causing trouble for white Protestant Americans.
The text above leaves out the references to Jews, and there are many. Throughout the movie, in fact, because Adam Driver’s character, Flip Zimmerman, is as Jewish as I am.
Forced to act the role of white supremacist, Flip becomes a stand-in for every agnostic member of the Tribe who’s raised outside the faith, taking advantage of pale skin to enjoy privilege. And it quickly becomes clear that the KKK are an equal opportunity hate organization, and that “Christ Killers” are targets as well.
The movie swings back and forth from violent and horrifying to funny, but in an all-too-empty theater, I was keenly aware that I was the only one laughing, and that the majority of the tiny audience was white. More people need to see this film, to understand what we’re up against, to really grasp what “America First” means in the realm of the KKK.
As sickening as it is to listen to copious instances of the N word, it’s a stark reminder that we can’t pretend that privilege isn’t granted on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis, solely on the color of our skin. We can choose to lift up our brethren or pretend the problems don’t exist. I choose the former.
You can read an abundance of reviews on the subject, but I strongly suggest hauling yourself to the nearest theater, plunking down your credit card and parking your butt in a seat. Get that education, listen to the words, become aware that being Woke is more than just protecting the rights of NFL players to take a knee at the start of a football game.
Lee closes the movie with the all-too-real footage from Charlottesville’s Unite the Right riot in 2017. He’s made a visceral connection that says “we have always been here.”
See the movie. Recall that this is how we are today. And then get your ass to the ballot box on November 6, because if you don’t, these people will win.