Another video. Another black person lying dead in the street. Another police officer, nameless, faceless, shouting into radios, “he’s dead.” A mother feels a pang in her stomach, her ears ring a sound she’ll never hear again. Charlotte, North Carolina. Ferguson, Missouri. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And those are just the ones that make the news. The Washington Post (the paper of Watergate) keeps a running tab on who police are shooting. It seems they’re shooting more and more. And they’re fearing more than ever, too.
There have been days of protesting in Charlotte. People are fed-up. They’re tired. Day one ended in bloodshed after a man shot a protester in the head. Point blank. The crowd erupted. Social media followed suit. First, we heard that a protester shot his activist kin. Then, that it was the police. Now, finally, the truth: an assailant opened fire on Justin Carr setting off a tidal wave of rioting. The response was deafening, as usual.
What's going on
The violence feels senseless. The reactions to black people doing completely ordinary things seem absurd at best. And King Mez, a North Carolina emcee on the rise, agrees. “Unless something comes out that’s firm, hard evidence, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s actually going on,” he stated. “It doesn’t feel right to me. Especially since it’s a recurring theme.” Such a recurring theme, in fact, that the political right has readily jumped to the fantastical idea that the “mainstream media” is race-baiting, so ready liberals are to suit up for a racial holy war. How arbitrary those folks would rather do some magical thinking than deal with the reality: African-Americans, Latinos, and other POC are disproportionately affected by policing strategies that value escalation.
“That’s the thing that frustrates me, too,” says Mez. “People are always talking to us like we’re crazy like we’re supposed to be beyond this. I don’t even see how that makes any sense. We’re still dealing with this to this day.” His voice rises and falls in waves. You can feel the tension in it. His fear. Fear that all our lives are up for grabs in this free-for-all of a situation. We hit them with #BlackLivesMatter. Some argue that we’re separatists. We hate America. We want this discord, and, most disturbingly, that we deserve it.
The narrative of race
The narrative is a simple one. "Brown people commit the most crime, they argue. Of course, they’re the ones we should watch the closest." But these institutions have given themselves away. For, if you’re watching us as closely as you say you are, then it stands to reason that you could be stacking the deck. Who's watching the folks this media narrative presupposes is not committing a crime? And, the kicker, who is watching you? The examples of oversight are almost too numerous to claim. In June of 2015, an officer approached a young, black woman in a parking lot in Austin, Texas. The resulting exchange went viral. The officer body slammed her and generally acted the fool. She was arrested and placed in the back of another cruiser where she asked the question on everyone’s mind. The officer replied that blacks had “violent tendencies.” He elaborated, “Ninety-nine percent of the time … it is the black community that is being violent. That’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.”
I do. These narratives are costing us our lives. But what King Mez wants to know is where are the artists that are willing to speak out about these issues? “As an artist, I feel like I’m excited to do the things I can do with this art to make things better. But I’m really disappointed in anybody who ain’t using everything they have to make this sh*t better,” he notes. “I’m disappointed in the artists who won’t use their voice.” There are a few that are.
The artful protest
Some of the best musical output this year has been "protest" records. Jamila Woods Heavn and NoName’s Telefone are exuberant, somber redresses to bigotry. Colin Kaepernick’s silent kneeling during the National Anthem inspires both an image of prayer and of defiance. And Charlotte, too, has been artfully protesting. Through curfews and state emergencies, they’ve marched.
Even now that partial viewings of the dashcam and body camera videos of police officers involved in the shooting were released, still they march. Because, despite the rhetoric, protesting is an act of love. It’s a peaceful reminder that people matter. Mez wants to show that, as well. And he understands how hip-hop’s influence can shape the world. “Hip-hop is the most influential culture in the world. Even pop music sounds like hip-hop. Hip-hop culture influences the whole world. All we have to do to be together, but people’s minds are on so many other things,” says Mez. “It’s so much bigger than me. It’s so much bigger than my career. I’m so passionate about this.” With everything going on in his home state, how else could he be?
The Last Question
Blavity: Is there anything you do for self-care? It can be hard to watch all the media around this stuff.
King Mez: I’m going to be honest with you. It’s hard for me to watch [the videos] all the time. I definitely don’t like to see, but I honestly, in some instances, force myself to watch it. I want to feel those emotions. [That] will directly affect my art, directly affect the way I carry myself and the decisions I choose to make. What a lot of people don’t even realize is at this point all the decisions you make as a black man you’re not just making for you. You’re making them for everyone. You’re making them for the culture. As an artist, it’s not just about you anymore. It’s about everyone.
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The NBA preseason starts October 1st, and many are wondering if the national anthem protest by players will spill over into the basketball season. The NBA has long had a rule that players must stand for the national anthem. Before Colin Kaepernick there was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. During the 1995-1996 NBA season, the $13 million contract-extension player told his coaches the he would no longer stand for the national anthem. Without much notice at first, Abdul-Rauf suffered no consequences for his actions based on his religious beliefs. On March 10, 1996 that all changed. Having previously been called anti-patriotic because of his stance which took place after the Oklahoma bombings, during the March 10th game Abdul-Rauf decided to sit in the middle of the anthem and the rest is history. The NBA suspended him for one game and decided that he had to stand but could pray silently in his hand while standing. Abdul-Rafur's career suffered a great blow and he never rebounded from it.
With more and more black people becoming target practice for police departments, professional sports leagues are having to find a way to respond to the way players protest. The NFL has had a tough time figuring out what to do and who to collect a check from when it comes to enforcing the stand. The NBA has decided to take a proactive approach to whatever stance and protest strategies their players may have. CBS Sports reports: "To that end, the NBA is looking to not merely deal with the aftermath of whatever protests or statements the players might make regarding these issues, but is working to actually foster a conversation in advance so that the league can support the players, but also so that it can try and prevent incidents that could harm their image or sponsor relationships."
It seems as though the NBA is willing to have a conversation about it but isn't willing to risk their image or sponsorships, so they want to get ahead of it. Coaches have stated they plan on talking to their players in the locker room about matters of this nature, and the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a letter to players.
NBA & NBPA have sent the players a joint letter announcing they are working together on... https://t.co/iWsctLWRLZ pic.twitter.com/YVjJ8sy9Kg— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) September 22, 2016
As the conversation gets started in the NBA about how to handle players potentially breaking a rule that very much still exist, it will be interesting to see who is willing to take a knee or keep standing.
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When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, people rioted against this seemingly flagrant act of disrespect. People were angry. A national controversy and conversation erupted. Many asked that he be kicked off the team. Some even went as far as to send death threats.
Apparently to "patriots," you cannot mess with America and the National Anthem or the old red, white and blue.
22 days after Kaepernick knelt, an officer’s bullet pierced through Terence Crutcher. A father of four, innocent and unarmed, Black man died that day. That same crowd fell silent.
Those seem people were not angry. Those same people did not call for the officer to be fired. The national outcry and controversy rests solely on the shoulders of those who can be the next hashtag.
Crutcher died in the same country that demands he stand up and be grateful for his freedoms only to strip him of his humanity when the song stops playing.
Kaepernick said, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL media after the game, "to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Those that opposed the Kaepernick protest, yet remain silent about the treatment of black people in this country, are American hypocrisy personified. The lack of outcry for Crutcher’s murder from the same group who had so much to say about Kaepernicks’s protest is the exact reason why the kneeling movement is spreading.
How can we take pride in a country that does not recognize us as more valuable that a song and a flag?
What black people want most in this country is to be seen as equal and human. Remaining silent about the treatment of actual people but shaking the table over the treatment of symbols of freedom is how we end up with one hashtag after another. There are too many stories with similar circumstances. The black experience with police in this country is not some collective folk tale.
An innocent man taking a bullet should ignite more outrage, more disruption, and more change than any supposed disrespect of a song and flag. The lack of outcry shows that some Americans place more value on protecting symbols of freedom than doing the work to make those freedoms a reality for all citizens.
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Sunday, the Carolina Panthers took on the San Francisco 49ers. But more importantly, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick came face-to-face. Over the past few weeks, both quarterbacks have been under the microscope for different reasons. Kaepernick, for using his platform to protest injustice, and Newton for playing the fence.
That's why their latest photo op went viral. There they were: Newton with his towel and Kaepernick with his afro picked by God himself. There's no way Black Twitter was going to let this moment pass.
There was a question that needed to be answered.
I REALLY want to know what was said between Cam and Kaepernick in that picture
— Martin LubeHer King (@PrinceBama) September 18, 2016
This was the most obvious scenario.
Cam: "Why didn't you stand up for the flag?"
Kaepernick: "Why didn't you dive for the ball" pic.twitter.com/er3vhnn0d1
— Briantelevision1 (@BrianHudson718) September 18, 2016
But maybe they were debating something else?
cam newton: all lives ma--
colin kaepernick: boy if you don't get pic.twitter.com/3i1P2hRpJg
— hobbes. (@pettyflocko) September 19, 2016
Colin: Harambe was just a gorilla
Cam: #ColinKaepernick #CamNewton pic.twitter.com/3kH1bKQXpz
— BrifodesYT (@brifodes1) September 19, 2016
Kaep: A hot dog isn't a sandwhich..
Cam: SQUARE UP pic.twitter.com/vJKnKv5qxo
— TRÏBĒ ĀLÏVĘ (@TribalThrasher) September 18, 2016
It could have been old school trash-talk.
Cam: Oh you think you one bad motha.."
Kap: Shut yo trap, sucka! Just keep on shuckin and jivin for the man. pic.twitter.com/gIGX0BGnn3
— Richie Loco (@Richie_l0c0) September 18, 2016
"I was born Black, I live Black and I'm prob gonna die BECAUSE I'm Black, cause some cracker who knows I'm Black..." pic.twitter.com/wTVLlR1yas
— Cold Grits (@JamilahLemieux) September 19, 2016
Cam: now they won't dab with me, look what you've started.
Colin:You one jiiiive turkey,it's Shame how they use you pic.twitter.com/nGa764TwU9
— Shea Butter Papi (@Scream_MALCOLM) September 19, 2016
In the end, it was only a matter of time before somebody gave it the main event treatment it deserves.
Cam Newton v Colin Kaepernick pic.twitter.com/1d7FtZJcIf
— Bre (@bre_88) September 19, 2016
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With Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest gaining more traction and the NBA season right around corner, some wonder if the protest will carry to the hardwood. Just a few days ago, Oklahoma City Thunder player Victor Oladipo said he thought some NBA players will follow suit. Now, Cleveland Cavaliers star Iman Shumpert says that he’s kneeling for the anthem in his newest track, “His Story."
Shumpert’s been in hip-hop for a couple years now and to see him be a professional NBA player and an artist taking a kneel for justice does my heart well. Premiered on KarenCivil the 3-minute track has Shumpert getting personal with some of the news stories he’s been in. In the last verse of the track though, Shumpert makes it known “you best believe I’m going to take me a knee for the anthem." Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but this opens the door to how the NBA will react when the season starts. With Kaepernick receiving a polarizing response not just from the media, but from the people and league itself, it’ll be interesting to see what happens come October when the defending NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers open against the New York Knicks.
You can stream "His Story" below.
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Football season has kicked off in a major way this year. With San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick unabashedly leading the way in articulating his resistance to police brutality and the social injustice against black lives, several other members of the NFL payroll have also followed suit– some with some hefty consequences. Brandon Marshall, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, took a knee as the national anthem was played during Thursday evening's primetime game against the Carolina Panthers. In an interview following the game, he explained his stance and told reporters,“I’m against social injustice. I’m not against the military, the police or America at all. I’m against social injustice."
Despite Marshall's explanation and freedom to exercise his first amendment right, his actions led to the termination of two endorsements. The first coming from the Air Academy Federal Credit Union, who denounced Marshall as one of their ambassadors and released a statement saying, "AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon’s right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors."
Most recently, the global communications company, CenturyLink terminated their agreement with Marshall and explained their reasons saying, "While we acknowledge Brandon's right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments."
When was the "occasional" moment that these companies took a stand, in defense of black lives?
While Marshall doesn't seem to be phased by the unfortunate Ls he's been forced to reconcile with or the tyrants that have taken to social media to berate his choices, the precedent being set by companies and organizations terminating endorsement contracts with athletes is not to be taken lightly.
Making the choice to stand by a particular company and it's organizational standards is one thing, but as an American and a black man, Marshall is entitled to stand by his own opinions as well. When CenturyLink and AACFU made the choice to terminate a connection to Marshall because of his views, it not only showed that while they respect his views, his opinions aren't significant enough to stand by and reveals their unwillingness to join the movement in defense of black lives. It reiterates the price tags put on black bodies, deeming them just worthy enough, if they subscribe to particular ideals and practices that don't deviate from what is considered right and justified under the veil of the American flag.
No longer will players and athletes stand by and pledge allegiance to an anthem or a flag or a nation that does not seek or practice equal justice for all. No longer will corporate money silence the voices that are courageous enough to speak up and speak out. For as Marshall pointed out,
"This movement is something special. People are going to bash me on social media but at the end of the day I’m going to go home and sleep peacefully knowing what I did was right. I will not lose any sleep.”
Moving forward, the Denver Broncos linebacker has already revealed that he will be taking a knee at his next game on Sunday and is joining his former University of Nevada teammate, Colin Kaepernick to develop ways to better alleviate and make better solutions for eradicating the tensions between police and black people. A meeting with Denver police Chief Robert White, set to take place on Tuesday is just one of the first steps on his mission to do so.
I've been given the chance to meet with the Denver police chief tomorrow.. If you have any questions you'd like to have answered
— Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh54) September 13, 2016
What do you think of athletes losing their endorsements due to their political or social views? Is it justified? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Colin Kaepernick has spawned a movement amongst his NFL peers and many other athletes. The protest of the national anthem and the flag has been polarizing to say the least. It seems as though everybody, to varying degrees, has picked a side. And many of our faves are falling from grace like flies.
But Charles Woodson is not one of them.
Full 4 minute clip of Charles Woodson making SO MUCH sense about why he supports the protests in the NFL pic.twitter.com/tLL16HEqH6
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 12, 2016
The legendary cornerback/safety-turned-NFL-Countdown-host/winemaker has some thoughts about the matter that make a lot of sense – and mirror much of the community. There is no right (or wrong) time to peacefully protest or exercise our freedom of speech. And the anthem that our country holds to be so sacred isn't exactly singing the praises of people who look like us. Colin Kaepernick and anyone else using the very rights that military men and women give their lives to protect should be respected at all times, right?
People immediately weighed in.
Charles Woodson kept it 1000 🙌🏽
— Wavy Bone Jr (@Jerm_T_Smith) September 12, 2016
Charles Woodson ✊🏿
— Nick Jones Jr. (@njfuture) September 12, 2016
@ShaunKing Yes. It's so sad that most don't get it...well stay tuned, you will.
— Da Way Eye See It (@JocelynBooze1) September 12, 2016
And although the dissension doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon, it's important that we're having the conversation at all. All we can hope is that this will lead to a much deeper cultural understanding for everyone about what it means to be black in America.
But it's safe to say that when Trent Dilfer started talking, we were all Randy Moss.
Look at how Randy Moss is looking at Trent Dilfer. 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/LrQbVfmKlc
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) September 11, 2016
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The list continues to grow as athletes join San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick in his protest of the national anthem. Since he made the announcement last month and kneeled during a preseason game, teammate Eric Reid and Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also opted out of the anthem.
Clearly, Kaepernick's strong beliefs against police brutality and America's harsh treatment of African-American worked. Just last week, his team announced a million dollar partnership to improve race relations in the Bay Area.
Veterans, more NFL players, in addition to collegiate and high school athletes are now expressing strong support of Kaepernick. They've decided to take a stand by taking a knee or showing a salute to black power as the anthem plays at games. Here are 15 recent moments of solidarity with Kaepernick.
1. Doherty Memorial High School player, Mike Oppong.
He has to sit out one game because of the protest.
My coaches and principals have decided to suspend me for 1 game.
— BLACK LIVES MATTER (@Oppong_5) September 11, 2016
2. Black players on West Virginia Tech University's womens volleyball team.
3 . Woodrow Wilson High School football players and coaches in New Jersey.
Video of Woodrow Wilson players and coaches taking a knee for national anthem before Saturday's game vs. Highland pic.twitter.com/JBhtaslq0i
— Philip Anastasia (@PhilAnastasia) September 10, 2016
4. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
*Note: Marshall has since lost a sponsorship deal with Air Academy Federal Credit Union
5. Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters.
As his team locked arms in solidarity of 9/11, Peters raised his fist.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 11, 2016
6. New England Patriots’ Devin McCourt and Martellus Bennett.
Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty kept their fists in the air after the anthem. pic.twitter.com/VoPWkipGbl
— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) September 12, 2016
7. Miami Dolphins’ Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills.
The team released a statement acknowledging the individual rights of players to observe the anthem in their own way.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 11, 2016
8. Maury High football players in Virginia.
The coach took no issue.
Several Maury players took a knee during the national anthem. Coach Fraser spoke about giving his players freedom pic.twitter.com/H1ovC4Muhh
— Brian SaundersII (@SportsWriter_BS) September 10, 2016
9. Lincoln Southeast high school football players.
10. This young man at Waggener High in Louisville.
Following Colin Kaepernick's lead a Waggener player takes a knee during the national anthem @WHAS11 @WHAS11Sports pic.twitter.com/y7QI32v3qo
— Holden Kurwicki (@WHAS11Holden) September 9, 2016
11. A group of players from Auburn High in Rockford, Ill.
12. University of Tulsa cornerback Keanu Hill.
#TU issues statement on Keanu Hill kneeling during anthem yesterday. The university's response at 5:30 on @NewsOn6. pic.twitter.com/taRQ7xSYix
— Scott Pfeil (@scottpfeil) September 11, 2016
13. Players in Minnesota.
Young brothers in Minneapolis took a knee for injustice last night during the National Anthem. pic.twitter.com/CMMsxMSVEB
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 10, 2016
14. Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard and Jason McCourty from the Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee Titans. The movement grows... pic.twitter.com/aeyKH6zQi1
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) September 11, 2016
15. U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
Who got next?
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Have you seen Twitter today? If you're a football fan, it might look something like this.
#BoycottNFL has taken over our timeline, and it begs the question: Are you big mad or little mad? People are still upset that Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem. And their hatred is bubbling over now that more players are following his lead.
Thursday, Denver Broncos' Brandon Marshall took a knee during the anthem and was very clear about his motives.
"I'm not against the military or police or America at all. I'm against social injustice and I feel like this was the right thing to do."
That act of solidarity was too much for "Dog Avi Twitter" to take. Some people refuse to hear the truth. They're convinced his protest is about the flag and disrespecting our servicemen and women.
If more losers continue to disrespect our flag I will #boycottNFL I will hold owners and coaches accountable.
— PJG (@redarmy67) September 9, 2016
Is the NFL decides that it will make a mockery of September 11 15th anniversary I say I will never watch a football game again #boycottNFL
— Charlie Onions (@CharlieOnions) September 9, 2016
#boycottNFL Stand up and spend your money on good things not some crybabies looking for attention. If they cared they would be out helping
— Angela (@Ike19777) September 9, 2016
Players are cry babies? Players aren't helping? The last time I checked, both Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers organization were putting up millions.
Black Twitter's not here for the hypocrisy.
People wanna #BoycottNFL because it "disrespects the military" but pretend like #VeteransForKapernick didn't happen https://t.co/veoJwoUNe3
— P aka Jim Bob Cooter (@chillin662) September 9, 2016
The #boycottNFL thing is confusing. You want to boycott b/c players are exercising their constitutional rights? Who's the patriot again?
— britni danielle (@BritniDWrites) September 9, 2016
Colin Kaepernick doesn't stand for the national anthem
Trump trashes United States on Russian TV
"He's a patriot!"
— Yukio Strachan (@boldandworthy) September 9, 2016
You care about rights and saving lives? Since when?
When you wake up and see #boycottNFL as a trending topic! Over a flag, not a unarmed man killed by a cop, a flag!!!! pic.twitter.com/TMEBqHiJoq
— Chris P (@ThaCouchCoach) September 9, 2016
So let me get this straight - you don't want to #boycottNFL over
but over peaceful protest?
— Darryn M. Briggs (@darryn_briggs) September 9, 2016
Y'all didn't #boycottNFL when Ben raped those women or Ray rice beat his girlfriend. But y'all boycotting over a flag. Go play in traffic
— L. Darcel (@BelleUnplugged) September 9, 2016
Oh, and if y'all really about that life...
You can send me your Ravens season passes if you want to #boycottNFL.
God bless y'all. pic.twitter.com/0dT90o6jxe
— TariqTouré طارق تورى (@TariqToure) September 9, 2016
#boycottNFL is trending???????????? lmaooooooooo, I'll see ya'll Sunday. #YallTrippinpic.twitter.com/j11mIyAJCW
— Stankie Muniz (@DJDarkWahlberg) September 9, 2016
This #boycottNFL hashtag is very interesting...... watch those same accounts tweet about their teams on Sunday pic.twitter.com/orFNC4gUVI
— LizzLocker (@Lizzs_Lockeroom) September 9, 2016
You know how this ends, right?
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