If the YOU Fits, Wear It
Colin Kaepernick (and countless others) tried to prevent the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by trying to get YOU to talk about police brutality. They tried to get YOU to understand, or maybe just show a sliver of empathy. It was done peacefully. In Kaepernick’s case, he went as far as contacting Retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer to find a method of protest that would be appropriate. Mr. Boyer and Kaepernick settled on a taking a knee. Maybe they found a way that would get YOU to take notice. Maybe this time YOU would listen.
YOU chose to disregard the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.
The message was clear. We need to finally have a conversation about the way black people and black communities are policed. We need to address the issue of police brutality. We need to discuss justice for those whose rights are violated unjustly at the hands of the police. Finally, we need to improve police training and tactics so black people can feel safe in their own communities while seeing police as an ally, not an adversary.
YOU chose to twist the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.
Suddenly, Kaepernick’s protest was about disrespecting the military. How can that be true? He consulted an Army veteran to discuss a respectful method of protest. It was agreed that kneeling would be appropriate. Thousands of veterans from all races and walks of life support Kaepernick and his method of protest. But by your standards, kneeling in silence is too loud! YOU also said it disrespects the flag. In what way? Did he break any of the good ole American “revere the flag” traditions? He did not burn it. He did not let it hit the ground. He did not wear it as a garment. When did Kaepernick disrespect the flag?
YOU always use your privilege to define what is right and what is wrong. If the YOU fits, wear it.
Your privilege says YOU still have the “right” to define right from wrong. Your privilege “allows” YOU to redefine the protest, push the wrong ideology, and garner support by using a false narrative. Your privilege “warrants” the ability to tell everyone else how to protest, when to protest, where to protest, and why to protest. If any protest falls outside your views, then YOU also decide we can not and should not be allowed protest. But isn’t it ironic that YOU always defend your right to protest as it is written in your Constitution? That is privilege. It says to me, your Constitution was not written for us.
YOU chose to (dare I say) shoot the messenger instead of reading the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.
It is unfair to discuss Colin Kaepernick without mentioning protesters and leaders who preceded him. The United States of America has shown an interesting pattern: vilify the leader of the protests if they are black. Regardless of the protest or the real reasons for the protest, the response is always the same. YOU choose to discredit the messenger to twist the message. YOU did it to Frederick. YOU did it to Harriet. YOU did it to Sojourner. YOU did it to Marcus. YOU did it to Martin. YOU did it to Fannie. YOU did it to Malcolm. YOU did it to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. YOU did it to Sharpton. YOU did it to Colin. And the sad part is, YOU do not know more than 2 or 3 names on this incomplete list, nor do you know the protests they led and the messages they tried to deliver.
YOU do not allow us a remedy when we have a problem. If the YOU fits, wear it.
Each of the people referenced had an agenda. Each had a message. Each had a concern. Each had a remedy for the issues they tried to discuss. In fact, all these messengers and the protests they led pointed to a fundamental truth about America. Your country has never lived up to the promises it “made” to us:
- Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
- Equal protection under the law
- Rights protected and defended in the Bill of Rights and amendments to the Constitution
- All men are created equal
- Government as the protector of the people and the rights bestowed upon them as Americans
Believe it or not, America has not fully lived up to these basic, fundamental principles as they relate to black people. I know this is the part where, once again, YOU get to tell me I am wrong. YOU get to define my experiences in this country even though I live them daily and YOU do not. YOU have the right to tell me to love America or leave America even though neither of us started here. YOU get to defend your beliefs, while I do not get to defend mine.
YOU choose to ignore the problem yet again. If the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU choose to stick your hand in the sand, while we tell YOU repeatedly that we do not feel like we are full-fledged American citizens. YOU choose to disregard our challenges, many of which are as American as apple pie: racism, economic distress, basic and human rights, lack of protection under the law, poor education, incarceration, destruction of our families, and police brutality. By the way, this is NOT an exhaustive list of the challenges we face. Why does it take protest for YOU to understand these issues? Why does it take protests for YOU to “hear” us? I have a better one. Why have Harriet, Marcus, Martin, and Colin had to protest the same problems over and over again, yet YOU still choose to ignore them?
YOU are surprised that peaceful protests become violent protests. If the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU think our protests are riots. Not true. YOU think our protests are about looting. Not true. YOU think protests are bout violence. Not true. Let me be clear: our protests are an attempt to get YOU to at least hear our concerns. Yet YOU chose not to be concerned. YOU choose not to learn. YOU chose not to show empathy. YOU choose not to care. YOU choose not to listen. Human nature leads the messenger to turn up the volume of the message until YOU can hear it. When protests become violent, it is because your ears are closed. Your mind is closed. Your heart is closed. Honestly, I am amazed there are so many peaceful protests because they have not been “effective” yet. YOU still do not hear the message.
YOU do not listen regardless of how the protest occurs. If the YOU fits, wear it.
We protest by negotiating, ask Frederick. YOU do not listen. We protest by sitting, ask Rosa. YOU do not listen. We protest by giving speeches, ask Martin. YOU do not listen. We protest by marching, ask John (Lewis). YOU do not listen. We protest by taking a knee, ask Colin. YOU do not listen. Do YOU notice a trend? We protest, and YOU do not listen. Each of these protests were peaceful, but still YOU did not listen and I know why. In your view, we do not have the right to protest. Remember, your Constitution was not written for us. We should be happy to be American, right? We should be happy to live in the “greatest country in the world”, right? We should respect all things American, even though most of those things never respect us, right? We “are” American so why should we even consider protesting? To YOU we should, dare I say, get on our knees and thank our Creator for being “American”. Under these false beliefs, I can almost understand why YOU believe YOU do not have to listen to us.
YOU want acceptance of the status quo because it benefits YOU. If the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU need law and order to protect your interests, not mine. IF the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU have the inherent right to force you views upon me and I must agree. If the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU cannot possibly be wrong under any circumstance. If the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU are not concerned, as long as my issues do not affect YOU. If the YOU fits, wear it.
YOU have been conditioned to think a certain way because of your privilege. If the YOU fits, wear it.
As a final thought, because YOU choose not to listen, YOU can expect more civil unrest. Because YOU choose not to care, YOU can expect more peaceful protests. Because YOU choose not to help us, YOU can expect more violent protests. Because YOU do not feel the need to see things from our perspective, YOU can expect deeper divisions in our country. We tried to tell YOU. Harriet said it. Marcus said it. Malcolm said it. Colin said it. In fact, he even asked BEFORE he said it. Still YOU do not understand. YOU do not support us. YOU do not respect us. YOU do not want us here. YOU do not accept us as equal. YOU do not listen.
If the YOU fits, wear it. At least we will know who YOU are.
Do YOU know who YOU are?
Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.
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