The shear amount of outcry from our little space in Camden County has been kind of amazing. Inquirer columnists have chastised a high school coach for the kneel, and now the entire Catholic Diocese of Camden County is threatening athletes with suspensions, and possible ejection from a team, over the same kneel.
As a white male, I should at least try to understand what the kneel stands for. Hopefully through this post, I will be able to show other non-minority Americans why athletes are kneeling for social justice. Data will show that my white skin color leaves me exceptionally less likely to have any encounter with law enforcement. What data, you may ask? Every single Department of Justice report following the death of unarmed people within the last three years.
To keep things easy to follow, let’s just look at the DOJ report on Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. The report was compiled by analyzing hundreds of thousands of pages of documents since 2010; Internal Affairs files through 2016; Data on stops and arrests through 2015. Tons of recent data. And the Department of Justice cites hundreds of cases of unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests of persons in poorer, mostly minority neighborhoods. An entire section of this federal report is titled, “Discrimination against African Americans” due to a deployed and documented, “policing strategy”.
The kneel, started by Colin Kaepernick and thus replicated all throughout the NFL, has begun to reach high school and college sports too. Athletes kneel or sit during the National Anthem because they do not support saluting a flag that seemingly does not represent freedom and justice for all. And data like those produced in the various DOJ reports show that to be the truth, especially when those who are responsible for committing unconstitutional acts and racially motivated stops are not held accountable for their actions.
Much of the outcry is stemming from what I consider to be a dangerous form of zero-tolerance-patriotism. By that, I mean some sort of culture has been born in which it is un-American and therefore shameful to criticize the United States, no matter if criticism should be or should not be cast toward the democratic nation. Sure, America is a great nation that presents us all with many more opportunities than other nations. However, that clearly is not always the case for minority persons and their interactions with law enforcement. And, please note, this is not a dis on police officers. This is simply an acknowledgement of facts presented by the Department of Justice, a federal office, that shows systemic deficiencies and biases. Systemic is the key word here. Not individuals. The whole damn system. The policies and procedures. The system.
Surely, there is so much more to take away from well documented facts from local, state, and federal governments. But let’s just leave things there on move back to our Camden County headlines.
Now that we know that there is hard data supporting the civil, peaceful protests by professional and student athletes, I have to ask; Why is the Diocese telling minority Catholic school students that they cannot kneel during the National Anthem? Of all types of schools, one would generally think that a Catholic School system would be very alarmed that certain population’s of God’s children are being discriminated against, harmed, and even killed while others are not. Another question I have is; What would happen if every athlete knelt? No more football?
Unfortunately, a private school is allowed to implement it’s own rules, hence uniforms, and now I guess standing for the National Anthem is a new rule, too. But also, to that same note, students do not have to go to a private catholic high school.
And, back to the Inquirer column. I don’t have much to say here. Others have been more than vocal about it. I just know that I would typically stop writing a critical article once I realized that I started the article with the phrase, “I’ve never walked a mile in X’s shoes, but…”.