On Sunday, Mr. J and I went to see the Baltimore Orioles. We are both huge Orioles fans.
EXHIBIT A: TWO WHITE PEOPLE AT THE BASEBALL PARK
I did something at that game that I have never done before, ever.
I refused to stand for the national anthem.
I've been working with minority teenagers since 2005. I've been teaching them full time since 2009. Let me tell you this, right up front: I cannot stand in their shoes. The gods know I wouldn't want to.
This country is a land mine for people of color, for young Hispanic kids and Dreamers. They're very observant, and smart, and they can see the truth -- how everything is arrayed against them from the day they're born. Don't tell me about affirmative action. It's more mythical than Zeus. Even when minority kids work twice as hard as their Caucasian peers, they are starting out (many of them) with all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle strikes against them. The strikes follow them right into adulthood. If they live to be adults.
This is where our nation's athletes step in.
EXHIBIT B: THE GREATEST
You want to see courage? Check this out. It's a wonder he lived to pulverize people in the ring.
I'll bet you already knew that Muhammad Ali was stripped not only of his boxing title, but was barred from the ring for three years at the very prime of his career. It's not like he had a trust fund or anything, either. He lived off the kindness of friends, even his opponents for three damn years.
When other people have to worry about their families and their paycheck-to-paycheck salaries, professional athletes can make strong statements about what the world is really like for people like them.
EXHIBIT C: NO FLAGS BURNT, NO PUPPIES HARMED
This is, to me, one of the most compelling photographs of the 20th century. These are American athletes who won running medals in the 1968 Olympics, and they are listening to the national anthem. Is this the frivolous gesture of someone trying to be glib or cute? BAMP! No. Is this a despicable desecration of the greatness of America? BAMP! No. This is a dignified protest of racism. May all the deities of all the pantheons salute these brave men. Because they needed to be brave. They got savage treatment after this incident.
EXHIBIT C: NO SWASTIKA, NO FLAG BURNING, NO FOUL LANGUAGE
So they played the national anthem, and these guys knelt. They were making a statement about police brutality. They are visible members of a minority population in this country.
To me, there is nothing disrespectful to our soldiers, living or dead, in this gesture. (Has anyone asked African American veterans how they feel about this? BAMP! No.) There is no desecration of the flag. There is -- mark my words -- no foul language and no violence urged upon anyone.
I didn't hear these athletes call any policemen sons-of-bitches and demand that they be fired. Did you?
EXHIBIT D: THE REAL UNPATRIOTIC DISGRACE, AND A STAIN ON THE HUMAN RACE TO BOOT
So this guy goes to Atlanta, gathers together some 10,000 of his fellow racists, and dares to call these gracious and principled athletes sons of bitches. How dare he? A man who wouldn't even rent apartments to minorities! Now he is manufacturing prejudice and hate. Whoa, finally successful at manufacturing something.
Everywhere I look on the Internet, I see white people in outrage at the disrespect inherent in kneeling for the national anthem. Readers, I don't know about you, but swearing from a podium and calling for honest, hard-working minority men to be fired is far more disrespectful than kneeling during a song.
One last piece to this rant. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are all about bad form. If our NFL players flipped the bird at the flag, or mooned it, or trampled it or burnt it during the course of a game, I would call that disrespect. But since when is kneeling so damn disrespectful?
EXHIBIT E: SUCH DISRESPECT!
I guess it's a-okay when they do it like this.
The moral of this sermon is simple: Far from being disrespectful, athletes who kneel during the national anthem are exercising their constitutional rights to free expression. They feel keenly the plight of their less fortunate brothers and sisters and want to make a statement about it. Gods bless America that they can't be locked up, tortured, and killed for this behavior! (Even if the Ghoul in Chief wants it done.)
Until the menace Donald Trump leaves office, I will not stand for the national anthem. Nor will I say the pledge of allegiance beyond the first sentence. This is not one nation. Liberty and justice? Ask Colin Kaepernick about justice. It's too late to ask Muhammad Ali.
If I hear the "Star Spangled Banner," I'm going to take a knee and pray to the bored gods to save our land, now, before it's too late.