Letter to the Editor
I just watched the unedited video of the police shooting of Patrick Harmon in Utah. The video can be seen on YouTube, downloaded by “The Young Turks.” It actually shows Harmon being shot to death. The police actions on the video are a disgrace. I am a Black woman, and I do stand for the flag, and I do sing the first two stanzas of the Star Spangle Banner, but I also support Colin Kaepernick’s right not to stand and not to sing the Star Spangled Banner.
In defense of Kaepernick’s position, I say to his opposition: What is a right, if you can’t exercise it? It’s clear that anyone opposed to him has not seen this video or past videos like it. Unfortunately Kaepernick’s intention behind taking a knee and not singing the Start Spangled Banner has been knowingly hijacked by divisive malicious individuals who have falsely described his actions as being disrespectful to American soldiers and the nation as a whole. I believe that nothing could be further from the truth.
I wish that Colin Kaepernick had sought the advice of some wise, insightful person who could have warned him as a celebrity and public figure to be careful in his choice of actions because there would probably be fierce opposed to him; opposition that could adversely effect his very lucrative career.
I would have told him that he is absolutely correct in saying that Francis Scott Key was a slave owner who believed that Black people should remain slaves. I would have also told him that all but a very few framers of the U.S. Constitution were slave owners and those that were slave owners rarely freed their slaves upon their death.
As a nation and as a people in this nation, Black people embrace the rights afforded to us by the Constitution: particularly the first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was a part of the Constitution that was initially ratified by the first 13 states in the union. We, as Black people embrace these rights; the right to free speech, freedom of religion, right to peaceful assembly, right to a speedy trial, right to a trial by jury, rights against excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
We know that these rights have evolved over the centuries to include Black people. Our ancestors struggled, fought and died for these rights to be applied to their posterity…..US! I refuse to reject these precious rights simply because they were originally written by slave owners and afforded to White men only.
Contrary to what some White people and Black people may think, we need each other.
I support the flag for various reasons. Because America is a multi-cultural and multi-racial society, there are very few outward expressions that join us together as one unified nation. First and foremost is the fact that we rely on the application of the U.S. Constitution by which we live our lives. Another is our ability to understand and speak English. Additionally, we all live in the same geographical area and finally, we recognize the U.S. flag as the emblem of our nation.
I have several allegiances. My first allegiance is to my God, then to my family and friends, and then to my country. It’s a person’s choice to have several or no allegiances.
Something that most Americans don’t think about is the fact that there are also benefits afforded to us when we associate ourselves with the U.S. flag. If, for example, I visited a foreign country and I lost my visa or, in a worse case scenario, I am charged with a serious crime. I would be well advised to contact the American Embassy over which the American flag flies for assistance. We may not give much thought to the flag as we live our daily lives within our borders, but it still means a great deal to other nations.
I would challenge any Black person to tell me the name of another country that is better for me as a Black person to live in, other than the United States of America. Our ancestors endured horrific atrocities with the hope that we would survive and eventually thrive in this country. I have no intention of rejecting the hard fought for rights that our ancestors bestowed upon us, nor do I plan to go anywhere else to live. I am proud to be an American.
This brings me to the heart of this message. Previously, I eluded to the fact that I am disgusted by the cruel treatment that Black people have received in America, from slavery, through blatant segregation until today where covert institutional racism prevails. We have often been vilified and even killed unjustly by those whom we look to for justice.
Colin Kaepernick has made America listen and pay attention. But unless we can elect brave progressive local, state and federal legislators who will pass laws and statutes to prevent police departments from hiding behind the cowardly premise that a police officer used deadly force on an unarmed Black man because he or she felt threatened, Black men will continue to be murdered by police officers. Because there is an ignorant, vulgar and pathologically lying Republican president in the White House and a majority of cowardly Republicans congressmen holding office, as well as the fact that there are more Republican governors in office nationwide, this is not likely to happen.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was well thought out and executed, but more importantly it was effective.
Today, all but seven states in the union have established lotteries. Disproportionately, Black people spend more money on lottery ticket sales than any other group of people. Lottery sales in the U.S. amounts to billions of dollars in revenue for these states. As a group of people, if we refrained from purchasing lottery tickets for six months or a year, I am certain that state governors and legislators would not just listen, but will strain to hear our demands.
Our demands should be for better screening of new police hires and the continual sensitivity training of police officers. Those individuals who have a tendency or the potential for abuse and brutality should be rejected. Because police officers hold a special position in our society, hiring police officers should involve intense scrutiny. Potential hires should be subject to an extensive screening process and mandatory psychological evaluations thereafter. Becoming a police officer is a privilege, not a right.
Boycotting state lotteries could be extremely successful. Kneeling is fine, but holding our money back from purchasing lottery tickets would speak volumes and would be louder than any other non-violent action that we could undertake.