Life + Culture

Appropriation of Protest

Image result for kaepernick vs trumpI first wrote about 'Taking a Knee' a year ago. That's when Colin Kaepernick began his now famous National anthem protest. He started it to challenge police brutality and racism. Not to make a point about free speech. Not in defiance of Trump.

Now, scores of players, as well as coaches and owners, are taking symbolic postures during the anthem. They're upset that Trump tweeted. They want to express their free speech. They're showing their solidarity. But Kaepernick is still out of a job.

Athletes of color have a long history of political expression, and an equally long history of receiving criticism for it. We want them to entertain us, to serve us, not to challenges us or make us even slightly uncomfortable with the system that put them there.

Abagond observes, "that making it about respect for the flag, or even free speech, draws attention away from what taking the knee is all about: protesting racial inequality and, in particular, police brutality."

Image result for jenner pepsi
And it's not the first time Black expression in the face of oppression has been co-opted by a white narrative. This is the legacy of Black blues, hip hop, fashion, and many other means of voice that were birthed out of a desire to call attention to the lived realities of life as a Black person in the United States.

There is a constant drive in white dominate culture to appropriate, and thus to tame, the expressions of oppressed groups. Indeed, the work of combating injustice itself functions this way. As months protects unfolded after the killings of Michael Brown, there were ongoing calls to “wait for the facts” from many moderate white progressives. Protesters were criticized and marches were deemed a waste of time.

These days, the controversial and “militant” phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is worn as a badge of honor by progressive social justice warriors that want to show they are truly ‘woke.’ Marches take place every week across the country for one cause or another. And now anyone that wants to feel like they're taking a stand...can 'take a knee.'

Image result for ironic protestToo often, people of color take the risk first, finding a new and powerful way to make their voices heard. Too often, white folks respond first with anger and skepticism, followed by dismissal, and ultimately finished by co-opting to the point of ineffectiveness or distraction.

It's not necessarily bad that more people have become aware, or have been willing to join a cause. But what if we didn't wait so long to stand up against injustice? What if, in particular, the Church were at the forefront of movements for justice, instead of limping along in the rear? What if we stood for the causes we were asked to stand for...rather than just appropriating the methods to our own ends?
...Read More.