Shaun King is right. White America doesn’t approve of ANY form of black protest.

If you have an issue with what Colin Kaepernick is saying and doing, you’re defending racism and police brutality. Period.

Colin Kaepernick

Shaun King has a pointed question for all of you Colin Kaepernick critics: which form of protest do you actually prefer? 

It’s such a great question because when you think back on it, there has never been a black protest that America’s “reasonable” and “responsible” and “moderate” whites were cool with. We turned the hoses and attack dogs on MLK’s peaceful protests. We really didn’t like Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary.” The very existence of the Black Panthers made us apoplectic.

We disapproved of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s black power salute. Muhammad Ali was willing to give up his career and go to prison because he refused to kill people who had never done anything wrong to him and whites vilified him. We hate Black Lives Matter because somehow saying I shouldn’t be killed means you should be killed. Rosa Parks? Get your ass to the back of the bus, old lady. Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins? Go eat with you own kind.

Ra[inoe kneels during national anthemIn other words, standing protests are bad, sitting protests are bad, kneeling protests (Kaepernick’s latest tactic, now joined by Megan Rapinoe) are bad, aggressive protests are bad, peaceful protests are bad, marching is bad, standing still is bad, putting your hands in the air is bad, leaving your hands by your side is bad, eating is bad. (Although I will crawl out on a limb and guess that many Americans would be okay with fasting protests.)

Get the picture? Let me boil it down for you, and forgive my language, but we need to acknowledge, in really clear terms, what is going on here: being an uppity nigger is bad.

The white establishment throughout the course of American history has been fine with black folks who knew their place. Singing spirituals in the cotton fields? Perfect. Shuffling like fools for the entertainment of white audiences? Yup. Kow-towing to the NCAA and our major leagues’ new plantation system? Check.

Step and fetch, you black motherfucker.

Opening their ungrateful mouths because of overtly racist police brutality? How dare you, you ungrateful thugs? The Santa Clara police are threatening not to work SF 49ers games in, well, protest. They are, however, bulking up their security for rapist Brock Turner. It’s one thing when people tell you about their priorities. It’s another entirely when they show you, init?

I can’t find this in Kaep’s Twitter account, so it may be faked. Regardless, it’s hard for someone who’s paying attention not to sympathize. If he didn’t say it, he should have.

Kaepernick tweet

I’m not saying all cops are racists. They aren’t. Colin Kaepernick isn’t saying it, either. Ice T didn’t say it when he did “Cop Killer.” Nobody is saying that. Truth is, a vast majority of police officers are probably dedicated, hard-working and committed to the well-being of their communities. All of their communities.

We are saying that some cops are brutal racists. Too many, by far. And that isn’t an opinion, it’s an objective fact. If I couldn’t deduce the obvious from simply reading the news, I’d still know it’s a fact because I met a cop who, face to face, in front of a witness, berated me for not being racist like he was. (That the witness was also a racist cop probably matters too, huh?)

Next time somebody says, in my presence, that they agree with what Kaepernick (or some other protester preaching the same message) is saying about race, but they “don’t approve of his methods,” we’re going to have a chat. Perhaps a heated one. It’s going to begin with me asking a version of Shaun King’s question: what type of protest would you approve of?

Meanwhile, I’m with King. Drew Brees and Boomer Esiason can shut the fuck up. America can read the Constitution (in many cases, for the first time) and the Santa Clara PD can do their goddamned jobs.

Because right now, if you have an issue with what Colin Kaepernick is saying and doing, you’re defending racism and police brutality. Period.

If cops want to make these kinds of protests go away, then they need to do something about those in their ranks who are causing them.


* Since writing this, I have learned that Shaun King is maybe somebody I shouldn’t be quoting on issues of racial justice. I apologize for not being better informed. In retrospect, then, I’ll say that source notwithstanding, the words he speaks here seem very true.


  • Sam, I respect your thoughts on this as well as Kaepernick’s right to kneel. However, while I can’t speak to the consensus on other protests regarding race and police brutality, many I’ve spoken with see Kaepernick’s actions here as a direct slap in the face to America, first and foremost. He chided the wicked at the expense of so many honorable.

    Some of the backlash reminds me a bit of when Natalie Maines publicly denounced then-President Bush on foreign soil. It was considered low, no matter her personal feelings, given the setting abroad. Race notwithstanding, many people don’t like such affronts. Further, they don’t like any protests that don’t serve them, as you said. But taking potshots at our country in what’s seen as a veiled attempt to gain personal notoriety is considered particularly heinous.

    As for Kaepernick’s other tactic: openly wearing socks with animated pigs in police hats. Well, it’s the same sort of stereotyping he supposedly rails against; the type of labeling that saw 12 officers shot in Dallas. He tried to clarify his intent later in an Instagram post, but how could anyone who’s ever worked a beat not take offense? How would he and his teammates react to cartoon images of football players smacking women around or abusing dogs?

    So, returning to the question of what type of protest is preferred, I can only answer for me. It’s the one that doesn’t ignore important underlying issues in the process. For instance, in the case of Black Lives Matter, I’d like to see the protest work the communities over the ways certain black people harm themselves and other black people. Protest the practices within that help perpetuate negative stereotypes and fuel racism. Don’t neglect to show us that black lives should matter to black people, too.

    • 1: Re: The Chicks, how did you feel when Trump went on Russian TV and dogged Obama (and praised Putin)?

      2: Re: that last graf, if I understand your rationale correctly you’re saying that if somebody shoots me, and I complain about it, I have an obligation to point out that other people are shooting folks, too?

      No thanks. That’s irrational and it serves to dismiss any protest against privilege.

  • 1: Depressed. And it was equally inappropriate but less surprising.

    2: Not exactly. The people rising up aren’t the ones being shot; they’re the ones hearing of it. Homicide by a racist cop makes every headline. By a street tough? Hardly a side note. Both wrongful deaths but not equally weighted because one involves a civil servant. So we focus all our attention on the policeman while the other assailant goes relatively unscathed. Trouble is, the level of media exposure creates the false impression that you’re more likely to be shot by someone wearing a badge than gang tats. As a result, the boys in blue are now facing prejudice. I’m just hoping that emotion doesn’t cloud the primary threat to innocent lives.

  • Pingback: Examining a cynical, fake-patriotic Facebook meme | Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

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