Inner-city crime should matter to Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter
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Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ black power salute during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City is seared in the consciousness of anyone old enough to remember. After winning gold and bronze in the 200 meter sprint, they turned on the podium to face the flag and hear the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In what many consider the most overtly political statement in the history of the modern Olympics, both athletes raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished.

That same year, Americans were under what seemed like daily assaults on the nation’s collective psyche. Assassins had killed Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., with the latter slaying spawning the greatest wave of social unrest in the U.S. in over 100 years. The war in Vietnam was raging, and its growing unpopularity caused President Lyndon Johnson to not seek reelection.

We faced far more serious challenges in 1968 than today. “Social justice warriors,” however, spin a narrative of white supremacist-inspired cops wantonly slaughtering black folk -- with the only viable countermeasure being a rebellion of the proletariat-of-color.

Enter Mr. Kaepernick.

As a military veteran I defend San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s right to sit or kneel during the national anthem. He loses me when he dons socks with cartoon pigs wearing police officer hats – hearkening back to Huey Newton’s Black Panther Party -- or when he sports t-shirts bearing an image of Fidel Castro -- whose government systematically abuses human rights – while claiming to be standing up for oppressed Americans.

In an interview after an August exhibition game, Kaepernick stated: “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” One person getting away with murder is the killer of former Miami Heat forward Dwayne Wade’s cousin Nykea Aldridge. She was gunned down by an unknown assailant in Chicago on August 26 while en route to register her kids for school. The Chicago Tribune has chronicled over 500 murders in Chi-Raq this year through the Labor Day weekend. That’s an awful lot of bodies in the street.

Kaepernick has pledged $1 million to unspecified organizations in communities of need, helping people affected by racial inequality and police brutality. Once those agencies take their cut, how much will be left for those most in need? How much will the cycle of inner-city violence have abated?

At least the Black Panthers instituted a free breakfast for school children program in Oakland and stressed education as a way to end the cycle of crime and poverty. Perhaps Colin Kaepernick pays homage to the Panthers with his pig socks, but his youth doesn’t allow him to discern events from an equipoised level of objectivity.

Similarly, while the Justice Department’s investigation into the September 16 shooting death of Terence Crutcher by Tulsa police appears warranted, those incapable of viewing issues of race and policing with the requisite dispassion may forget – if they ever knew -- that DOJ found Ferguson’s “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” mantra predicated on a lie.

On September 26 the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its “CRIME in the United States 2015” reporting that whites committed 3,908 murders and non-negligent manslaughters last year, while blacks were responsible for 4,347.  Blacks make up approximately 12.6 percent of the country’s population, yet accounted for 51.1 percent of these crimes in 2015.  Respectively, whites comprise 70 percent, yet committed 45.9 percent of these horrendous acts. Tragically, blacks are overrepresented in all thirty crime categories.

Let’s soberly consider that some degree of what we view as police brutality is more about unacknowledged biases cultivated through overexposure in high crime areas than about naked racism.

Seasoned football fans recognize misdirection when they see it. The quarterback fakes a handoff to a running back and then sprints around the end in the opposite direction. In theater, misdirection is a form of deception in which an audience’s attention is focused on one thing in order to distract said attention from another.

Social justice warriors have successfully exploited Kaepernick’s declarations in order to misdirect the public’s attention away from urban bloodletting toward the far fewer cases of heinous acts by racist cops. The republic suffers from such revolting play-calling.

Byrd is a freelance opinion writer whose pieces deal with racial identity politics and religion. Follow him on Twitter: @ChasbyrdM


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