Tired of Derailment: #TakeAKnee Or Take A Seat

24 Sep

Black Lives MatterIf I had a dollar for every time a white person derailed a conversation about why unarmed Black men, women, and children should not be shot and killed by police officers and fellow citizens, and what it means when we say Black Lives Matter, I would not be sweating so much over how I am going to pay for my older daughter’s college next year.

I know I’ve said this before here, but it’s as if all of these people are reading from the exact same script. And, we know not be incredulous anymore. We’ve come to expect it. We’ve gotten good at knowing exactly what they’ll say next.  Any of these sound familiar to you?:

“But what about black on black crime?”

“Well, if only they had complied with the officer”

“He was no angel…”

“Why must they riot?”

“Why must they quietly kneel?”

“Taking a knee is showing disrespect for those that served this country for your right to be free.”

“Stop with the excuses. Everyone has the same opportunities. My parents came to this country and were able to make something for themselves through hard work and sacrifice.”

“I don’t see color.”

“Why do you make everything about race? That just divides us.”


I could go on and on, but I’ll just share one more concrete example of what happened last night on social media. I make poems out of my friends’ Status Updates on Facebook. Last night I created a poem which reflected sentiments on the President’s comments calling NFL players that “disrespect the flag” “sons of bitches,” of course, referring to Colin Kaepernick. Here is the poem:

facebook poem a day (made from your status updates)


saturday seriousness: trump goes on
yet another nationalism rant
“if you don’t
condemn this
divisive rhetoric, you are
condoning it
“very fine people”
“sons of bitches”
guess that makes me
a proud bitch!
u bum StephenCurry30
already said
he ain’t going
so dreadfully wrong!
every nfl player,
coach,and owner should
take a knee sunday,
monday, and thursday to
stand up against
damnable unpresidential disgrace
I’m one of
countless military veterans
taking a knee. do not
exploit our service
to silence black americans
and endorse racism
white america,
it’s time to take a knee
kneel so hard sunday
the earth shakes

Poem contributors: Colette Phillips, Richard Sherman quote via seattletimes.com, Teresa Kaepernick (@b4lleaveu tweet) via Shaun King, LeBron James tweet via ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson, Kirk Byron James via Jim Vincent, @cmclymer tweet via Woke Folks, quote via www.johnpavlovitz.com, Kellie Salome quote via rettweet via Jeffrey Wright


Then, this thread happened:

Him: I stand to show my pride in being a veteran. I take a knee in prayer or proposal. I let everyone else do what they want.

Me: but do you support the reason why Colin Kaepernick is taking a knee, and his right to do so?
Him: Absolutely. Colin is free to make any statement. The NFL will make their decisions, based on their contractual expectations with regards to his employment. I do not support anyone’s privilege of getting compensated, for playing any game, to the tune of any 6 or 7 figure number of dollars per year. That is just disgusting. They are playing. Games. Kid stuff.

Me: payment of sports figure is not related to the issue at hand–it deflects from the seriousness of what people are fighting for.


Him: I believe Colin K. has a legitimate disagreement with how he and others are being treated. It’s his right to protest. If it interferes with his contractual obligations, he can protest on his own time, or he can go get a 5 figure job, like this hard working US veteran has. Better?


Me: again, when you tie in his salary or use the term to describe yourself as “hardworking US veteran” which no one is saying they don’t support veterans in this–that it’s a deflection from the real issue–it’s like saying but what about black on black crime. Why can’t it just be good enough to hear the cries of pain and outrage and say “we hear you. we support you. we believe racism is wrong too” and leave it at that instead of adding side opinions that don’t have anything to do with what Black people are fighting for.


Him: I know what black people are fighting for. It’s not anything I took or take away from them. It’s not something I owe them any more than I owe anyone else. In fact, I don’t look at it like an us or them situation. I don’t oppose what people fighting racism do, as long as they don’t blindly label me a racist, because that happens too. I’m one of the good guys, but I’m not “peaceful protesting” or marching with hundreds of like-minded people, when inevitably someone decides peaceful is not really working and it turns into a riot and we’re all labeled as rioters, or worse. My final point is…I do not listen to the opinions of disgustingly wealthy sanctioned sports players any more than I do the average person, because to me they are not celebrities at all. I do not celebrate their accomplishments as having any distinguishable merit, as in, for comparison, the merits of a teacher, a doctor, a warrior, a cancer researcher, a truly good-hearted politician, a lovely Jewish mother of two who dedicates much of her personal and professional time standing up for the people’s rights.


Me: there’s so much in here that I can’t get with, xxnamexx. and I Know you are capable of understanding all of it. By the very fact we were born with white skin, we live with the privilege and power that comes with it, even when we claim we aren’t racist, or we weren’t a part of slavery–that was years ago–we still benefit from the racist structures of oppression and inequities that impact people of color, and allow us to glide through life without the same obstacles–and it has nothing to do with the myth of the individual and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. People of color never got the straps, and sometimes not even the boots. I understand you don’t want to give a celebrity more merit than any other voice. So, can you hear your neighbor who is Black and crying out for the same things Colin is, who happens to have more of a platform? And are we really one of the “good ones” when we keep the status quo and don’t act to break down these systems of oppression and inequality?


Him: In my opinion, he has no platform. You don’t see that. I never liked sports, only fitness and strength. I don’t watch sanctioned sports, never did. I don’t think they build character. I think they cause a mindset of privilege starting in High Schools all across this country. I was Class artist and it begins in HS. Didn’t matter what color you were. The “royalty” is always football. It’s BS. People of all colors have been born in rags and have become rich later in life. Inventors, scientists, teachers come from all races and walks of life. I see most people making one absolutely horrendous mistake, whether rich or poor, drugs. The majority of people don’t even consider alcohol to be a drug, and that is sad. In rich neighborhoods almost everyone is doing drugs, and it doesn’t really show, because they can afford to get an education, drive nice cars, dress nice, keep themselves clean AND afford their (fake luxury) drugs. So they can still seem respectable to most and get good jobs, but they still do really stupid stuff. Most poor people I know want to live the luxurious life too and so they do the drugs (fake luxury) that they can afford, with most of the other things being out of their reach. Trying to blame others for your poor choices is not for everyone, but it’s common for most everyone. I have no vices. I live like a monk. I do not celebrate human inebriation as a norm, nor the idiocy that it entails. The NFL is a HUGE proponent for people who like to get goofy headed with whoopty juice on the regular. I don’t believe in white privilege. I believe that evil is trying to take over, and drugs are a tool of the Devil. Not even a little glass of wine to relax. It’s just another drug. Plenty of rich black people out there who only hire their own. Plenty of poor whites nobody wants to hire are out there. All of them standing in line at the package store on Friday night. I don’t care if you’re guzzling MD 2020 and smoking crack, or snorting coke through a rolled up $100 bill and sipping champagne. It’s all drugs, and I HATE DRUGS. They keep people down. And they grant privilege. Nobody wants to hang with me and give me a good job because I won’t have a beer with them after work. I have lost jobs over that. Drugs grant privilege. I’m not one of the cool kids. We see the world through very different eyes.

Exhausted by the major derailment and denial of the existence of white privilege all I had left was this response:

train derailment gif


And, if I’m exhausted, think of how exhausting and disheartening is is for Black people who have to deal with the oppression, and systems of white supremacy, and be on the receiving end of this never ending invalidation of their experiences, and call to have their humanity and right to freedom and equality heard, and enforced.

I try to practice grace in all facets of my life, and I want to be able to have it when I enter into these conversations about racism and anti-racist efforts. I went to the “How White People Can Talk About Race With Other White People Who Don’t Get It Without Trying To “Win,” Or Fight With Facts, Or Try To Get Them To See Things Your Way, And, How To Not Be All Smug And Self-Righteous And Call Out, But Call In, And Don’t Think You Can Convert Someone, And Just Listen To Their Concerns And Fears” talks, and still this Jewish gal is going to have to atone this weekend on Yom Kippur for lacking grace during many of these conversations.

A fellow writer and activist, ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson, posted today on social media something to the effect that anti-racism is a verb.  It is my job to keep going.

I grew up in a household where my Dad had sports on continuous loop on our television, and Sundays were about pizza from Bacco’s and whatever game was on. I have not watched football since I left home at eighteen. Tonight I will turn the game on with hopes that our country will do something historic to show solidarity. That all of the players, coaches and owners and fans will take a knee. I have no time for derailment today.  Please, either #TakeAKnee or, take a seat.




tenor gif – train derailment



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