I didn’t want this to be my first blog post! I didn’t want to toss in my bed. I didn’t want to lie in bed at 2am thinking about this subject.
However, I felt compelled by some sense of duty to spout my opinion on something many people have already spouted an opinion on. Feel free to disagree and call me whatever names you wish, and be thankful we live in a world where you can do that.
It’s the subject of race, the NFL and activism.
You see for the past week or so when I’ve tuned in to sports radio in the US I’ve been bombarded with measures of outrage over San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I don’t know Mr Kaepernick but I do know he has every right to sit down during the national anthem, just as talk radio hosts and callers have a right to criticise or praise him.
Like a lot of people, my thoughts on his stance – a protest at oppression of black people in America by the police – revolve around the idea that he has the right motives just have chosen the wrong forum. Then again, if his aim was to stimulate debate on issues of race then he has certainly succeeded. I consider this, overall, a good thing.
But there’s a problem. And it isn’t with Colin.
You see, it is my sincere belief there’s no point talking about symptoms (black people dying at the hands of police) if we don’t talk about causes. I’ve heard a lot of chatter on ESPN about white people needing to get involved in this debate.
While this stance is understandable – it is mainly white hosts imploring white America to get involved – people have to get real. In today’s society, where the latest social media trend is picked up and dropped about as often as I have a shower, (everyday, by the way) people, in my opinion, do not seem too concerned for long about things that do not affect them. I’m talking about all colours, all races. Most of us are concerned about issues that affect us directly. That’s why the economy is usually the number one issue in general elections.
That is why the nice folks of sports talk radio are missing the point. They are making the classic mistake that politicians do, focusing on the easy subjects of symptoms and not the underlying causes. Let’s not do this with this issue of cops killing blacks. Let’s not just cure the flu but look at the underlying health of the patient (America) so we can largely eradicate the problem.
And what is the underlying problem?
It’s crime committed by young blacks. Before you spit at your computer screen or go to a website that has a less disagreeable opinion, hear me out. I’m not blaming the victim here. The problem we have in American society is that too many young black men are committing crimes.
Consider this: blacks in the United States make up some 13% of the overall population, and yet 4.7% are part of the prison population.
I think of that statistic using this logic: if more young black men are committing crimes (as a % of the population) they will have more brushes with the law, more brushes with the law equals more likelihood of these cop-killing scenarios. This logic is simple and yet is often missed by the US media in their hurry to make perennial victims out of blacks and patronise the ‘poor black folks’ who need white America to start talking about their plight. From my perspective, what is needed it certainly dialogue, dialogue as to why so many crimes are committed by such a small fraction of society. Dialogue as to why more black men are being shot (again as a % of the population) than any other group.
There needs to be transparency and open dialogue where all the cards are laid out the table, not just those fitting the agendas of quasi-political organisations. I understand the issues surrounding the perceived lack of justice for those who are shot by police officers. That’s one thing I applaud to come out of this is that a spotlight is being held up to police shootings and there is more of a clamour for officers to be held accountable for their actions.
However, it does not serve justice for us to rush to judgement about every shooting by a police officer. Unfortunately, the times we live in, in which opinions, however groundless, are often delivered before the full facts are known do not help. Furthermore, often news organisations will ignore or twist stories and facts that run contrary to their political stance.
Yes, white people do need to be part of the dialogue. Everyone needs to be part of the dialogue. We all have a responsibility to talk to each other about our prejudices, about our fears and about what is going on in the world. Serious issues should be discussed about crime, the underlying causes and solutions. Is it absent fathers, gangs, the justice system, lack of parental responsibility, racist policing, lack of education or a justice system too willing to lock up nonviolent drug offenders? Is it all the above and more?
Dialogue will be uncomfortable. It better be. Democracy and freedom has always involved a little pain. Be thankful you live in a country where open dialogue is possible. Your job? Pinpoint the real issues and take it from there.
Rant over. Time for bed.
PS – Feel free to berate, agree, disagree, respectfully of course. If anyone has more up to date stats please use the comment box. Thanks.