Jordan Moment –Anchor Contributor
A friend of mine once wrote a poem in a literary journal that started off with the stanza “Black women are not your gods,” and I invite you to keep that in mind for the duration of this article. To talk about injustice and institutions in the United States is more than likely a fruitless task considering that was the reason this great odyssey started when a reporter asked the then quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers why he wasn’t standing for the national anthem—a task in which no one has ever been obligated to do.
What happened next was, well, history. In the beginning, God sent three ships across the Atlantic via proxy of a king and queen, to a land that existed centuries before the bible. In Haiti, a prophet took seven minutes to carefully crafting the genesis for the conquest of the “New World.” The fall of Nineveh might have been rivaled by the fall of Tenochtitlan, Cortez channeling Abraham bound entire nations as a sacrifice, but there was no messenger other than horse’s hooves, black powder, Spanish steel, and smallpox. Notice that in this reimagining of the Americas that there is no Messiah, which is fitting, because I doubt that Colin Kaepernick ever wanted to be one.
Nor do I expect that he wanted to be a martyr for black activism or a scapegoat for white America’s fascination of blaming black and brown bodies for every interpreted challenge to their perceived or unperceived power and privilege. The problem is that to even compare the two is a fallacy and validates the belief that there is equal weight to both of these vantages, that the way people “feel” justifies the continued discourse which undoubtedly makes this article worthless. If the mere act of a black man taking the simplest and inoffensive stand against half a millennium of systematic oppression translates to two years of outcry where even the President mocks him, then article means nothing. If during Black History month 55 years after the singing of the Civil Rights Act, we reflect on a legacy currently being disregarded and dismantled, then this article means nothing. If every essentially every institution built on these two continents was by built at the detriment of black, brown, and indigenous bodies and their dissent towards them is written off as “sensitive” or “uppity,” then this article means nothing.
So, we then have the two sides of apathy in the United States, this article which there is not enough ink in the world to describe the ways that this article is one of many written about a subject that remains fundamentally unchanged throughout the centuries, and the Nike bonfire side which has spent centuries looking for things to burn.
Kaepernick challenged the system in the most passive way and he was able to present a case strong enough that the NFL decided that the payout was less costly than a trial, and that does signify at the least that he was well prepared or at the most that the world is maybe changing after all—and I’ll let you decide on which. But remember that in a time that exists in your memory or your parents he would have been killed for this, or crossing the street, or selling CDs, or going to a corner store. Or a lie that stretched from Chicago to Mississippi, a small town to a river in the woods never to be forgotten under the soft glow of fireflies.