Making a Stand by Sitting Down: Black Athletes and the Flag

Source:  TeleSUR
August 30 2016

By refusing to stand for the national anthem, Kaepernick joins a long line of Black athletes who use their position to protest racism in the U.S.

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There are many Black activist athletes. | Photo: Wiki Commons – Twitter

The flag is “a symbol of oppression, of tyranny”

The story is by now well-known. With the national anthem blaring from the PA system, the players and crowd stand to salute the U.S. flag when a beat reporter notices something slightly off: a Black athlete, sitting alone. After the game he asks a simple question: Why?

The flag, the player responds bluntly, is “a symbol of oppression, of tyranny” and he planned to continue to refuse to stand for the anthem. Asked if he might suffer repercussions as a result, the Black athlete answers unflichingly: “My beliefs are more important than anything,” he says.

RELATED: Kaepernick and Lochte’s Actions Underscore US Double Standard

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

Twenty years before San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s sat out the national anthem before a preseason pro football game Friday, Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf made an almost identical gesture. Born Chris Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi, the 6-foot-guard, who played with Shaquille O’Neal at Louisianna State University, had converted to Islam as an NBA rookie. “I’m a Muslim first and a Muslim last,” Abdul-Rauf said at the time. “My duty is to my creator, not to nationalistic ideology.”

Kaepernick is hardly the first Black athlete in the U.S. to take a political stand against racism in the U.S. – nor, frankly, is Abdul-Raouf. The roster of Black athletes who have stood up – or perhaps, better yet, sat down – to protest the country’s institutionalized racism dates back nearly as far as sport itself.

John Carlos and Tommie Smith

Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith startled the United States and the rest of the world when, at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, they raised their fists in the Black power salute during the national anthem at the Olympic prize ceremony.

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Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in a civil rights gesture on the Olympic medal stand in Mexico City, 1968. | Photo: Flickr / Galaxy fm

“I wasn’t there for the race. I was there to actually make a statement,” Carlos recalled decades later. “I was ashamed of America for America’s deeds, what they were doing in history, as well as what they were doing at that particular time. I just needed to get a place on the victory stand.”

Jackie Robinson

Only a few years later, American Major League Baseball second baseman Jackie Robinson published his 1972 biography, in which he powerfully recounted that as a Black man, he could not “stand and sing the anthem,” nor “salute the flag”.

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Jackie Robinson swinging a bat in Dodgers uniform, 1954. | Photo: Wiki Commons

“I know that I am a Black man in a white world,” said Robinson, who integrated Major League baseball in 1947. “In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made,” he wrote.

Malcolm X

Mahmoud Rauf said that reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” changed his perspective, particularly when the militant Muslim leader wrote: “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality.”

And it is perhaps Malcolm X’s protégé, the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, who took the boldest stance for an athlete in 1966, when he refused induction into the Vietnam War, earning the wrath of many whites. Much like Kaepernick, Abdul-Raouf, and others, Ali said that he cared not a whit what others thought.

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America,” he said at the time. “And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”

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Ali in 1966. | Photo: Wiki Commons

There might also be another reason to compare Kaepernick to the Black athletes who came before him. Ali was prohibited from boxing in the prime of his career, Smith and Carlos were summarily exiled from the sport after their protest, and Abdul-Raouf, while he was suspended by the NBA for only one day, saw his basketball career end shortly after his protest became public.

RELATED: NFL Quarterback Sits for US National Anthem

While mostly white 49ers fans continue to be infuriated by Kaepernick’s committed stance – with some even circulating a petition calling on the football team to fire him, and filming burning the quarterback’s jersey to the tune of the national anthem – Kaepernick isn’t about to give in any time soon.

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“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed” he said. “I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances.”

Venezuela: Blessed are the peacemakers … President Maduro’s Letter to Obama

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God

Nicolas Maduro VP VenezudlaCaracas 1 September 2013

Your Excellency,

Barack Obama,

President of the United States of North America

On behalf of the people of Simon Bolivar and Comandante Hugo Chavez, I am writing to you in defence of the cause of peace and as a staunch enemy of war. This letter calls on you to reflect on the unjust, nefarious and frightening possibility of a U.S. military intervention against the people of Syria.

These words have no other intention, President Obama, than to accompany the people’s demands for a world where peace is the everyday way of understanding ourselves as brothers and sisters. I make these beautiful words of Simon Bolivar mine, entirely mine, “Peace will be my port, my glory, my reward, my hope, my happiness and everything that is beautiful in the world”. In the same way, this is about following the path that Jesus of Nazareth shows us on that beautiful beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Continue reading

MLK highlighted the underlying structural roots of inequality, poverty and racism

Source: 1804 CaribVoices Weekly

Isaac Saney

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington

mlkk and malcolm xThe 50th anniversary of the March On Washington is a time for serious contemplation on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. The pervasive and dominant narrative freezes in place King’s politics and philosophy, transfixing his thinking to August 28 1963. The subsequent development of his views on capitalism and imperialism are ignored.

Entwined with this rendering of King’s politics is the construction of a seemingly unbridgeable dichotomy between King and Malcolm X. Each portrayed as the other’s antithesis.

As the 50th anniversary of Malcolm’s assassination also approaches (February 21st, Continue reading

Malcolm X: We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba …

fidel y malcolm“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

The power of the media
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being Continue reading

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rosa Parks

Reblogged from Moorbey’z Blog

Rosa Parks February 4, 1913, to October 24, 2005

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
by Jeanne Theoharis

rosa parkes and MLK 21. Parks had been thrown off the bus a decade earlier by the same bus driver — for refusing to pay in the front and go around to the back to board. She had avoided that driver’s bus for twelve years because she knew well the risks of angering drivers, all of whom were white and carried guns. Her own mother had been threatened with physical violence by a bus driver, in front of Parks who was a child at the time. Parks’ neighbor had been killed for his bus stand, and teenage protester Claudette Colvin, among others, had recently been badly manhandled by the police.

2. Parks was a lifelong believer in self-defense. Malcolm X was her personal hero. Her family kept a gun in the house, including during the Continue reading