Thursday, May 31, 2018

Guess what I'll be doing on Sundays this fall?

Well, I won't be watching National Football League action, that's for sure.

It's all because the owners of the league's 32 clubs have decided to ban kneeling during the singing/playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Players must now stand during Francis Scott Key's claim to fame...or risk getting fined. 

The only other option for the NFL's athletes: Stay in the locker room until the song's finished.

I remember all the letters that appeared in the Omaha World-Herald during the 2017 NFL campaign...letters that asked those protesting football players to air their grievances "on their own time" rather than in front of stadiums full of people (as well as in front of millions of TV viewers).

Well, those Americans who gave their newspapers such letters have now gotten what they've been on their own knees begging for.

And it probably won't take long before some of those same letter writers attack any NFL players who actually use "their own time" to address issues such as police brutality. 

In time for last Wednesday's Washington Post, Shaun R. Harper (a professor at USC who runs the school's Race and Equity Center) turned in a heck of an editorial about the circuit's new kneeling ban. 

Harper talked about how the new edict is all about ethnicity. 

Out of over 1,700 NFL players who suited up last season, 70% are Black. Seven of the teams had African Americans as their head coaches.

Every last squad in the league is owned by White people.

And starting with head honcho Roger Goodell, most of the people who make up the power structure at NFL headquarters in New York City are Caucasian Americans.

Add it all up. 

Harper did just that, talking about how the kneeling ban signals that the team owners don't give a good, good hoot about fighting racism in America. In addition, he stated that "the league is only interested in Black men as laborers and entertainers, not as citizens with the right to use their influence to awaken our nation's racial consciousness, disrupt racism, and improve circumstances for members of their communities who are harmed by racist policies and practices."

The key word is "citizens."

Later on in that editorial, Harper (he's written a dozen books; his most famous one: "Scandals in College Sports") called on NFL players to sue the league over its efforts to hold back gridders' freedom of expression (we're talking First Amendment rights, you know!).  

SRH also talked about how he joined many other African-American football lovers in boycotting last year's NFL contests to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and other activist players.

Shaun, I'm a year late to the "party," but here I am.

I'll continue to read about the games in the paper and online.

I just won't watch the games on TV anymore...until the Jerry Joneses and Daniel Snyders lift that stupid kneeling ban and stop cozying up to a man who wanted one of those NFL teams earlier in this decade.

That's right...Donald John Trump.

Even if Trump and his enablers/supporters don't really get it, patriotism involves more than standing at attention when you hear, as George Carlin put it, the world's only national anthem that mentions rockets and bombs.

Much more. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

"Are you good?"

Been down in the dumps a lot this month...some of it due to things at my job and some of it because of things going on at the apartment building I live in (to say nothing of the crap still going on in Washington, DC).

Take this past Wednesday.

At about 2:10 PM (Central time), I was coming back from music practice at the church I go to, and was trying to hurry up and get out of said apartment building in order to rush out to my factory job when I saw three little boys (each roughly five to seven years old) sitting on the stairs inside the apartment building. 

I was heading up the stairs to my own apartment when one of the boys asked me: "Are you good?"

I told him: "Yes. I live here."

And as 5-23-2018 wore on and I was fighting to pack only high-quality products at that factory in Southwest Omaha, I got to thinking about something else that happened a month earlier.

One day back in April, as I was heading to my car to drive to work, another little boy was playing among the cars, SUVs, and trucks in the upper parking lot of the same apartment building.  

Out of the blue, that boy proclaimed to me: "I'm a police officer."

As if I needed to know that. 

As far as I'm concerned, the two incidents stemmed from just one thing:

The parents of the two boys taught them how to hate. 

That's all there is to it.

What hurts even more is that the boys and their folks come from lands such as Myanmar and Nepal...two of the nations Donald Trump labeled as "s***hole countries." (In recent years, the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area has built increasingly strong Karen and Nepalese well as increasingly strong Hispanic, Somali, and Sudanese ones.) 

And with television and this here Internet teaming up to give some of America's newest naturalized citizens (as well as lots of people who came into the world right here in these fifty states) a crash course on who to hang out with, it doesn't take long to learn bigotry.

I've lived in the same neighborhood since 3-29-1997...the very day I moved back here to the Big O after spending the previous eight years and nine months residing in Sioux City, Iowa.

All this time, I've seen the apartment building I've lived in since I moved back to Gabrielle Union's birth city turn from half-Black, half-White residency to predominantly Yellow. 

The building has changed hands twice, with the second sale having taken place this past February.

As long as I'm able to pay the rent, I've got a place to live. 

And I've got to admit the truth: Like the vast majority of human beings, I've tried my best to be good. When not at the factory or at church, I've tried to keep to myself and mind my own doggone business.

When it comes to that, I'm someplace between the middle of this long, long line and the very back of the line.

And I'm going to keep trying my best to be good...and be myself.