Sitting is as American as it gets

“Ain’t no Vietcong ever call me nigger” were words spoken by Muhammad Ali in his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war.

A symbol of America’s own strength and power. Praised for his athletic and boxing abilities, Muhammad Ali was more than the gloves on his hand. Those words, pierced like a thorn in America’s side – uncomfortable. Death threats, confrontations with racism, and prison proceeded. Muhammad Ali’s battle wasn’t with the Vietcong, but it was against the same American system, that like a thorn, gave way to sharp pain. A pain called injustice. 

Those who have lived a life free of the direct and indirect consequences of systematic racism can proudly go about touting their affection of their lily version of ‘America”. On the other hand, those who have suffered at the hands of lady injustice have a hard time flaunting their pride and praise for a country that has left them in the ditches, degraded, and disrespected.

You see, it’s our nationalism that is the curse of our land. American’s have a constant internal competition with each other, as seen in this year’s president election, to see who’s more patriotic than the other and/or who is and who isn’t a racist. We point fingers at each other, mainly due to differences in ideas and culture. But we forget, it’s those differences that make America…great. Instead of pointing fingers, we should be embracing each other. But we are blinded by our self-pride, on both sides. 

The fight between right and left is a fight to see who can be more patriotic than the other. Patriotism isn’t defined by your political beliefs, but it’s defined by fighting for what’s right and wrong. The moral fabric of our country is weaved by those who put themselves at risk to defend our freedom’s; of speech, or religion, and of protest. It is our nationalism that has drowned out our empathy and respect for one another. 

Kapernick’s protest is as American as that flag”. Even Jackie Robinson, an iconic figure and also a veteran, would not stand for the national anthem. His reasoning is unimportant, but it’s the act that counts. A man willing to stand for what he believes in, a man willing to risk it all for his own dignity, a man willing to showcase his own form of patriotism under the right of freedom. It takes courage and pride to be a warrior on the front lines in the war of justice. Where the battle is a constant fight to see a better tomorrow, a better tomorrow for our country, a better tomorrow for all citizens.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Oh how I wish those words weren’t still true today. As I visited the MLK memorial last weekend, I could only stop and think of his sacrifices and how still today, although progress has been made, we are still fighting his fight. That is why Kaepernick sits. He sits because he wants to see a better tomorrow. He sits because of police brutality. He sits because of the industrial prison complex. He sits because we still wage wars in our own self-interest. He sits because he is a patriot whose fight is to make America greater than it was prior to his stance.

You may not agree with his protest or you may be highly offended, because in your view 'he disrespected the flag'. If that’s your stance, I’d say his point is proven. Protests that don’t offend aren’t worth the effort. The ones that do are the ones that can change the world. 

As a politically conscious African-American male, his form of protest was not to disrespect the military, but to redirect the domestic aggression towards marginalized bodies like the one in which he inhabits.

For Kaepernick, it his civic duty and responsibility to sit against the injustices that plague our country. But you’ll say, it’s a slap in the face to our soldiers and veterans who fight other men’s wars for our so-called freedom. Not only is that a deflection to the issue in which he’s addressing but it is also an implication of your blindness to your privilege. Our service men and women, don’t fight for a flag, they fight for our constitution, they fight for our right to either sit or stand.

To celebrate America is to strive for perfection, not regression and/or staying comfortable with the injustices as well as justices of today. America never had to be great again, America is already great but it isn’t perfect. It’s the constant fight for perfection, respect and empathy amongst all people, that will make America’s legacy in history. A country that overcomes its differences, realizes that it’s those differences that make the country what it is. The best of all people, but one can dream right?

Until then, sitting is as American you can get..depending on your perspective.