That Right To Speak Freely

In case you haven’t heard there is a a National Football League player who has, and will continue, to refuse to stand for the national anthem at football games.

As an American, he has that right granted to him by the Constitution of the United States of America.  No, he does not have to stand up and pay respects to his country.  I understand from what I have read that he has his reasons and his concerns.  I appreciate that he believes in what he is promoting and that he is knowingly putting his career in jeopardy (my opinion).

I don’t agree with him.  That’s my right.

But I don’t want to ‘bash’ him as much as I want to understand him.

I find it interesting that he feels this country, and I take umbrage at him enveloping all Americans in that statement,  “oppresses black people and people of color”.   He, himself a man of ‘color’ according to the biographies I can find about him, does not seem to have lived an oppressed life.  I am only taking what I see at face value, I don’t know him, but he does not appear to have lived an oppressed life.

I believe he has every right to voice his opinion and take action in any way he sees fit.

But I believe I have the right to want to understand this action because he made it a public action.   And I freely admit that I don’t fully understand it.  I know I cannot relate to his perception of life, nor can he relate to mine.  Enter:  conversation.

I searched out some of his statements today and again, can’t hate the man for taking a stance.  Though I question some of his motive.

What I don’t understand is showing disrespect, or lack of respect, to a country that not only allows him to speak up but encourages him to speak up.  A country who gives him that right to speak freely.  Act freely.  And be protected in doing so.   I have to admit, I was greatly impressed with reading about some of the people who support him and the manner and verbage they used in supporting him.  Many of them veterans.  I can’t say I am impressed with the constant racism bashing going on, from all sides.  But those who speak honestly about how they feel, and express calmly why they respect or support his actions, even if they disagree.

My feelings are not important to what he is doing.  But I can’t help but wonder.  And my thoughts continue to go round and round in a circle.   He said he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” and yet the country he is not going to stand up to show pride in gives him opportunity, a living, and a stage to express his agenda.

I am impressed with the Americans willing to discuss.  And they do exist despite what the press presents to the world.

I am impressed with the Americans who do not agree and do so with respect.

I am impressed with the Americans who agree and do so with respect.

I am impressed with those who enter into discussion about this regardless of what they agree or disagree with.

 I don’t agree with his action.   But if his action was to get people talking, it worked.  So, when does he show respect to the country that is talking about what he wanted them to talk about?

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51 thoughts on “That Right To Speak Freely

  1. Excellent post, Colleen. He disrespects a country that gives him the freedom to have that disrespect.

  2. If his goal was to amplify the conversation, he surely succeeded. I don’t know how to feel about it, but I’ve lived all over the U.S., and I’ve seen painful things. I haven’t walked in the shoes of a minority. Nice post, Colleen.

    • Thank you Van BTR. THe more I read, and I’m trying to avoid the video rants and such, the more questions I have. Someone else left a reply I’m working my way to, and I like the suggestions offered in making a difference. I guess I’m not sure of the goal.

      I like your comment about not having walked in his shoes. I actually wrote a post about not being able to walk in another’s shoes because then those shoes become mine. I can’t walk in his shoes, but I can have conversation, empathy, sympathy, and be willing to listen. And I’m an American…..

  3. rgemom says:

    I’m not quite sure how I feel about his actions either. Living in a town with a huge military contingent, I have many friends who feel they are being disrespected. But yes, his actions did start a conversation. And while he personally doesn’t seem to have lived an oppressed life, I understand his desire to support others of his racial background who are daily oppressed. I’ve gone back and forth in my thoughts on this all weekend. I’m interested to read the conversations coming out of this post.

    • Thank you RgeMom. I appreciate any conversation that is willing to listen and discuss. But it has to come from all sides. He began this so I’d like to see his follow through on this. Where is he going with it? How does he plan to make a difference?

      Like you I’m conflicted on how to feel. You said it very well about “going back and forth” on how to feel.

      I can’t say I agree with him. But I would like to see him make a difference since he started this.

  4. reocochran says:

    I am not upset with him but disappointed he chose to risk his career and DID lose his place on the team. (As of Monday, August 29,’16) So, how will that “pay” for his future freedom in America? What a shame he chose to put his life’s earnings on the line for something many won’t ever understand.

    • From what I’m reading his career was already suffering (for other reasons). I don’t think his career was threatened by this as much as he was suffering from injuries and surgeries. In my opinion, he either took center stage to promote his beliefs when he refused to stand, because he knew his time was limited and he would soon not be working in football. So he took the opportunity to do it while he could.

      Or, he did it because firing him after doing that would look like it was because of what he did, rather than on the football injury issues.

      I just hope that whatever his reason, he follows through to work with others to make change.

      • reocochran says:

        Thank you for this really well thought out answer which helps me to understand why he did this and the timing of his actions.
        I agree, hopefully he will follow up with his own contributions of time and energy to create more awareness. Not from anywhere but a place of love and mutual understanding.

  5. ksbeth says:

    great post and point of view, colleen –

  6. Great post. I, too, am disappointed in and question his motive of choosing this event to “voice” his opinion. Start a conversation: yes. Display your objection by choosing to lump all of America into the ‘foundation’ of your cause: proves the problem with the racial hate in this country. Both sides constantly make a blanket statement for a specific problem and choose to blame and accuse the very source that can be the solution. It’s like the old adage, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Instead of choosing to show his opposition through the national anthem, a symbol for a country who gives him the right to speak freely, Act freely, and be protected in doing so, why not choose to show his opposition in a way that would actually make a difference instead of a simple headline? Why not actually stand for a cause rather than sit down for a song and stir up hate and anger by what could be seen as disrespect (whether he meant it as that or not)? Why not choose to make a difference in an actual “oppressed life” of, maybe, a youth who is striving to succeed in school but who maybe can’t seem to get ahead due to no family support or having to work multiple jobs just to help support his family, or maybe a young single mom who is working three jobs to feed her family and striving to make a better life for her children, or … endless opportunities where “oppositions to oppression” can be made to make a real difference rather than just to make a real headline… 😦

    • Thank you WheatandTiares. I am interested in seeing what he does now. He’s got a buzz going, that’s for sure. But it isn’t all positive, that’s for sure too. I feel he has an obligation now, to all of America, to do something positive with this. And you listed some good ways of doing that. He has opportunity in abundance here. Which is ironic, since he is saying he is oppressed (and though he may not have said “him” he is lumping himself into “people of color” as much as he is lumping all Americans into the “oppressive” peoples).

  7. Debra says:

    I think his choice has perhaps cost him more than he bargained for, and I feel badly about that. I think he’s young and frustrated and I wonder how he’ll express himself ten years from now–perhaps very differently. I’m not sure how I feel about it, Colleen. We seem to be living in an age where respect and integrity are defined so differently among people that I find I’m frequently wondering how to interpret actions. Just think of all the ugly and hateful talk that’s circulating in this election cycle. I do agree with you that as a conversation-starter there’s some value that may come from this. You have a very clear voice, Colleen, and I appreciate it!

    • I will say Debra, I’m torn between not agreeing with him (and I don’t) and being impressed (not sure if that is the right word) for putting it out there.

      But, I question his motives. And I look forward to seeing how he takes this and moves forward himself into an action that makes a positive difference.

      In regards to ‘respect’, you are right. Our own ‘leaders’ have completely lost respect, dignity and class.

      Thank you Debra!

  8. viveka says:

    Colleen, you always deliver …. *smile – I agree with him and I agree with you.I think if I don’t think my country are living up to what it stands for … why should I stand up and show respect. Sport and patriotism hasn’t always gone hand in hand. Not only in US. There has been protests on many sport major sport events around the world.
    We should follow our heart and believes. If it doesn’t agree with everyone else … and this man put this believe and freedom first, not the money. I’m sure that he has knew what he was doing could cost him dearly.
    There is many ways to show respect .. not only to stand up for a flag. Also I don’t think US has given this man something for free … he has worked hard for where he are today.
    And I think what is going on during the election campaign just now is also very disrespectful and a true shame for US. All that hate.
    But I also understand where you’re thoughts are coming from.

    • Thank you Viveka. 🙂 He has worked hard, no one in the NFL gets there by doing nothing. Agreed. And that was an opportunity he took advantage of. The US is like that. It respects hard work, it always has.

      I’m not real sure what this man’s next step is. I hope he does do better with it than the candidates who are running for president. It is a shame what they are doing here. I hope his next steps are better than that.

      • viveka says:

        Colleen, I think what US goes through just now with the election campaign is a patronizing what US is truly standing for. Personal I will lose respect for US if a special candidate wins, because that shows that anyone can get the most important job in world .. doesn’t matter what your values are. But to be honest none of the candidates are worth the White House, but out of 2 evil things.
        I’m sure the man knows was very clear about what he was doing .. and where he is going. You don’t take a statement like that without knowing the consequence, still if you US stands for freedom of speech .. he shouldn’t lose his “job”. It would never happen in Sweden. You can sack anyone for their option and he didn’t harm anyone around him.

        • I have not heard that he lost his job. Though I have been reading about his injuries and his decline in play. Which is part of a football player’s life (sadly), that has been declining before this happened.

          He has freedom of speech, and many who don’t agree with him, still support his freedom to say what he likes. That is not in question here. But freedom of speech comes with responsibility. You can say what you want, but you have to deal with the consequences. From what I’ve been reading he was very aware of what he was doing and made an informed decision. Whatever happens, I hope he uses this to move forward and make positive change. He has everyone’s attention right now, it’s up to him on what he says/does next.

  9. Patty B says:

    You did something he has not done….learned about him and his reasons. I feel he is grandstanding (I may be wrong) but it seems to be he is on a bandwagon. I am not saying there is still work to do – there is. But by grandstanding instead of working to solve the issue it doesn’t do anything but get people upset. If he wants a better country then what is he doing to make changes. Anyone can stand up and voice an opinion but it takes character and courage to do something about it. He wants his country to respect him, yet he will not respect his country. Respect is something that is earned. Instead of tearing down this country he (all of us) should be building it up. By not standing he took the focus off the issue and onto himself and are we any better off because of it? No. This discussion has been going on for decades he did nothing to further the discussion. If anything I have less respect for him – now if he were to use his riches, his fame, his words and actions to help the inner cities (people of all colors that live in poverty) then lets talk about change and what we can all do. Maybe he does, all I can do is hope that he has put his money where his mouth is.

  10. April says:

    Great conversation. I would also like to see what he does to encourage more conversation than simply sitting. We have to stand to back up a statement.

  11. Jim McKeever says:

    I see this as an opportunity to learn — about American history, present-day America and how they are connected. I just read “Democracy in Black,” by Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of African-American Studies at Princeton. It provides tremendous historical context for what is happening today in terms of racism, oppression, attitudes and violence. There is still a lot we all have to learn, and I’m with you in that we should do so with respect, not just for others but for ourselves. I learned a lot reading that book, and it made me understand a perspective that was foreign to me. I can only hope that we all learn from Kaepernick’s act. It’s messy, and perhaps he could have chosen a better way. But it certainly got people talking. I just hope they’re thinking, too.

    • I’m really struggling with this Jim. I do not agree with the how and not necessarily the why either. I haven’t seen or heard of any actual action on his part to make a difference. I fear this action did nothing to further what he said his cause is. But, I could just not be seeing the information. I appreciate everyone’s feedback. I appreciate your information. And I hope we all start learning. But that is an all inclusive ‘all’, not just some of us.

  12. Paul says:

    Colleen the answer is 1 = 0. You see there is a mathematical proof that 1=0 – the problem is that in the solution of the proof, there is an operation that divides by the variable that ends up being 0. this is a disallowed operation with no meaning even of it occurs before the variable is defined. Which means truth has a continuity that lies outside of time or logic.

    \So, you have obviously encountered a contradiction in Freedom of Speech – and you ask how that contradiction can be if Freedom of Speech is the Truth.the answer is that Freedom of Speech is not the truth, the truth is the right to be who who you are as long as you are not breaking any laws. So if a black man is harassed for being black, then that should be illegal, but under Freedom of Speech it is not.It should be Freedom of Existence,not Freedom of Speech. And the very same concept that powers that right powers harassment and bullying and such on a personal level but not on a collective level. Such is obviously wrong for if targeting an individual with hate is illegal then so should targeting a group of those same individuals be illegal. And the player is obviously saying clearlythat it is as blatantly wrong to refuse to acknowledge the beliefs of Americans as a group as it is to accept the fact that America allows his race/color to be publicly hated. 1=0 There is a fallacy in allowing hatred of an identfiable group in public

    • Okay, I ‘think’ I got this. But not sure.

      But….I will say I do think the “Freedom Of Speech” part SHOULD come with a disclaimer that reminds everyone they can speak their speak, but they WILL also be held accountable and responsible for their speak.

      I will say that I do not agree that “America” allows his race or any other race to be publicly hated. “America” encompasses all Americans. And not all Americans hate or support hate. I would bet it is a small minority that do so. Unfortunately hate is explosive and garners much attention. Meanwhile, civil, nonhating peoples are shocked by the explosiveness and caught up in the mayhem. And put on the defensive.

      • Paul says:

        You state that America does not allow blacks to be hated – and yet you say it is legal for anyone to stand up in public and speak words of hatred against blacks . Your definition of hatred must be much different than mine.

        • I think I’m a bit lost here Paul. There is all kinds of ‘hate’ being voiced by many different races, towards many different races (and certainly not just in America). I said there is Freedom of Speech, but I believe there is a responsibility that comes with that speech. You may speak hate (unfortunately) but you can not incite hateful acts. Is it legal to speak hate? Yes, okay, it is. Is it legal to act on hate? No, they are called “hate crimes”.

  13. I know a lot of veterans who were offended that the football player didn’t stand for the National Anthem, but then there are some who feel that they have fought for his right to take part in a civil protest. His protest is not about being black and poor in America, its about how minority groups are treated in America. We live in a country where the justice system works differently depending on class and race. And now we have elected a president whose campaign was built on nationalism/racism. So, I wouldn’t sit for the National Anthem, but I understand why he does. I’ve experienced racism before, it’s not a good feeling. My husband experiences racism and has to go above and beyond to ensure people that he is an educated individual and not a thug, like black men are stereotype to be. There are all types of videos where people are screaming “Trump, Trump” and calling people horrific names. This is the America we, as minorities live in. We have to see this everyday. We feel this everyday.

  14. seriously, this is great
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    http://valsministries.com/speak-up-let-your-voice-be-heard/

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