We don’t heel, we kneel!

by Tim Young

As a member of Generation X, as I reflect back on my youth, only one person comes to mind when it comes to laying it all on the line – and that’s Tupac Shakur! When it came to speaking truth to power, when it came to using celebrity as a vehicle for change – no one did it with as much passion and fury as Tupac!

Tupac was not controlled or contained by fortune or fame. He walked the walk, he talked the talk, and he always put his money where his mouth was. Never in my lifetime did I imagine seeing another celebrity or public figure that was willing to risk it all.

This stunning mural honoring Colin Kaepernick recently appeared at 22nd and Telegraph in Oakland.
This stunning mural honoring Colin Kaepernick recently appeared at 22nd and Telegraph in Oakland.

And then, out of the clear blue sky, millennials delivered unto us Colin Kaepernick! Thereby proving that every generation is capable of birthing a Rosa Parks, Tommy Smith or Muhammed Ali.

This was not supposed to have happened. Activism in sports had long been written off as a thing of the past. Athletes nowadays are controlled by large sums of cash and are expected to go the Michael Jordan route, which is to get rich and remain closemouthed about social issues.

Well, Colin Kaepernick broke the mold! By his refusing to stand for the national anthem, he made it clear that his humanity would not be hinged upon contracts, endorsements or public opinion.

Was there and will there be backlash? Of course! But that is the price that any Black man or Black woman pays whenever they decide to go against the grain. In fact, Tupac spoke about this very thing in his song entitled “They Don’t Give a Fuck About Us.”

Colin Kaepernick broke the mold! By his refusing to stand for the national anthem, he made it clear that his humanity would not be hinged upon contracts, endorsements or public opinion.

While on the issue of backlash, Colin Kaepernick spoke out about systemic racism, oppression and the unchecked police terror that Black folks are subjected to in this country. Further, he refuses to stand for the national anthem until these issues are addressed and until he sees some significant change. Now, in 2016, you would think that the man would be hailed as a national hero, but instead, he has been threatened and maligned by the likes of POA, SFPD and the typical powers that be.

Colin Kaepernick was not only calling for national dialogue but, more importantly, he was calling for “change!” And it’s a shame that instead of addressing his concerns, certain Americans are only concerned with addressing his activism. And by that, I mean that they are only concerned with silencing him.

A lot of people are hating and coming after “Kap,” but hell, the man is in the hood passing out backpacks and school supplies to disadvantaged children. The man is trying to make a difference in the Black community.

Instead of tearing him down, people should be building him up and giving him a helping hand. Because he is not only putting his money where his mouth is, he is also putting his career on the line. So, to all of the flag wavers and Uncle Tom types that have something divisive to say, I dare ask: What revolutionary stances have you taken? What personal sacrifices have you made?

Instead of tearing him down, people should be building him up and giving him a helping hand. Because he is not only putting his money where his mouth is, he is also putting his career on the line.

As for Colin Kaepernick’s girlfriend, if she has opened his eyes and made him a better man in any way, shape or form, then kudos to her! The question is, why y’all mad? Is it because she’s beautiful, Black and conscious?

Hell, don’t hate, congratulate! Instead of hinting that she’s Muslim and that she may have radicalized him, why not just concede to the fact that he chose well? Or could it be that the media’s disdain for Kaepernick’s choice in a mate is rooted in Islamaphobia and bigotry?

If I’ve never thought of a Black sports figure as a hero before, I do now! If I’ve never had a favorite football player before, I do now! If I’ve never had a favorite number or jersey before, I do now! These sentiments ring true, not only to myself, but to an entire nation of oppressed people.

The national anthem doesn’t stand for us, so why should we stand for the national anthem? Colin Kaepemick sitting down during the national anthem was epic, but taking a knee, that was genius, and actually much more significant. Why? Because it makes it more viable for athletes in other sports to follow his lead. Case in point: American soccer star Megan Rapinoe. You see, regardless of sport, occupation or pastime, anyone, anywhere, at any given time can take a knee. No bench, seat or chair required.

What Colin Kaepemick has done is not only courageous but long overdue. The game plan, henceforth, should be to turn that momentum into a nationwide movement. Yes, the best way to show solidarity and support for Colin Kaepemick is to emulate his heroic act.

The national anthem doesn’t stand for us, so why should we stand for the national anthem?

Instead of the Ice Bucket challenge, how about the Take A Knee (TAK) challenge? Here’s how it works: Any person or group that takes a knee during the national anthem or pledge of allegiance may then challenge three people or groups to do the same. If any person or group refuses the challenge, then they have to donate time, money or resources to a social justice organization within their region.

Tim Young
Tim Young

People were more than willing to dump buckets of ice water over their heads for a cause that they had never heard of. Therefore, let’s see if those very same people will do the “TAK” challenge, in hopes of raising money for social justice organizations and drawing attention to the racism, oppression and police terror that plagues this country.

For once in your life, stand for something bigger than “self.” You can accomplish this by taking a knee. Let’s see if students, athletes, actors and entertainers will take the challenge and help this thing go viral. Let’s see who has the heart, character and courage to kneel for change.

© Tim Young (#WeDontHeel,WeKneel!) Send our brother some love and light: Tim Young, F-23374 SQSP, San Quentin, CA 94974.