Psychiatry has a long history of being used to control those who present or behave in a way opposite to what is expected in mainstream society. Today, we have the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5, which helps counselors and therapists identify psychological maladies. One of the main criticisms of this instrument is that its existence is based on eurocentric, patriarchal cultural norms and therefore, pathologizes any behaviors or beliefs that exist outside of those outlined in the manual.
This is harmful because it erases and marginalizes all patients that are children, female, do not present as “left-brained,” have social mores that are more communal than individual, and have intense emotional and physical sensations. This is compounded when those who have these traits are melanated and are treated as if they have a disability due to their genetic makeup. The use of medication such as Ritalin and Adderall to “control” children, more specifically Black children, is harmful if it doesn’t address actual brain imbalances.
It takes everyday work to be an ally and not lean on privilege. Here are a few ways you can help those who need it:
Do authentic work when providing services that were not asked for.
Remember that just because you can not see a person’s ailment, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Understand that an event or proclivity may not be distressing to you but it might be to another person due to culture, upbringing, and expectations.
Encourage and allow those who need assistance to speak for themselves, while honoring their concerns and requests. Do not change or influence what they want for your own benefit.
Provide adequate resources to allow those you are assisting to help themselves.
Events in the last month or so have helped a whole new bunch of white folks understand the systemic and structural nature of racism in our society. I hear this in the conversations I’m having with other white folks, like me. I also see it in social media and op-eds and commentaries. Less and less do white folks attribute racism to “a few bad apples”; more and more we recognize the ways we benefit and black people and other people of color are penalized by the policies, practices, and procedures in all our institutions. All our systems — justice, education, health care, politics, just to name a few – were set up to benefit white people at the expense of people of color.
This understanding is an important step in dismantling these structures, but it is not enough. Another crucial step is for white people to recognize the often unacknowledged ways that we, too, suffer from the disease of racism.
Here’s an example:
You may have seen lists of ways that white people benefit from white privilege and by contrast the ways that people of color do not. One of the most famous was written by Peggy McIntosh. I want to call attention to #25 in her list: “If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.”
This is something I’ve heard many people of color talk about. For example, if they don’t get a job, they ask themselves, “Did I not get it because I’m a person of color?” If a cop pulls them over, or if a store security guard asks to see the contents of their bag, or if a host at a restaurant seats them at an undesirable table, or if a person on the street doesn’t greet them, or if someone gives them the side-eye, or if people in a waiting room who appear to have arrived after them get called before them – the list goes on and on for insults large and small. Some of these actions profoundly affect people’s lives and livelihoods, while others are microaggressions that contribute to an overall environment of hostility. Each leaves a question in their minds about whether or not racism played a role.
This constant questioning constitutes an undermining of people’s confidence. It adds stress to their lives, a continuous undertone of ambiguity and uncertainty about why negative interactions occur – was it random or was it intentional or was it unintended, but still ultimately motivated by implicit racism?
White people do not have to ask this question in the same way. Instead of the uncertainty of a negative episode or situation, white people suffer the uncertainty of a positive episode or situation.
This means that, as a white person, I have to now turn the question on myself in positive situations. Every time I was hired or not pulled over or smiled at or greeted or given a prime table at a restaurant or anything else positive, I have to ask, “Did I earn that, or was that just because I am white?”
For white people this question pulls at the mythology of American meritocracy, which says we are a nation of boot strap pullers and hard workers who deserve everything we get because we earned every bit. Racism calls all that into question. Maybe I have my job and house and reputation and everything else, not because I worked for them, but because I was simply born white.
In this way, racism insidiously causes a similar insecurity in all of us. None of us know if we are treated the way we are because of our character and qualities, or because of our skin tone. The difference, of course, is that white people with that insecurity have the option of putting people of color “in their place” as a way of saying, “Even if deep down I’m not sure why I have what I have, at least I’m better than them.” In other words, racism reinforces itself in a cycle of oppression that gives white people a false sense of our superiority – and we have to prove and protect it, again and again, in a fight with our own psyche that we can never win.
Racism is a societal and structural disease that we all suffer from, and we are all less for it. When white people recognize the ways that racism hurts us, too, we can begin to let go of the power and the privilege in the knowledge that we, and everyone else, will be better off. We can find the will and the ways to stop the cycle and end racism.
Art by Godfried VanMoorsel for Living Artist Project
Many of our psychological schemas concerning the way the world works are often based on second and third-hand information. We then take these paradigms and apply them to most of the areas of life, without testing their effectiveness.
Some of us take certain ideologies that we know to be false and force-fit them into our realities, causing undue and sometimes unwitting harm to ourselves and others. These behaviors become habits and then the habits — through repetition — become deeply ingrained, making it difficult to perceive any other method of accomplishing our goals. When solving a problem, it is important to remember to decenter.
1. any of a variety of techniques aimed at changing one’s centered thinking (i.e., focus on only one salient feature at a time, to the total exclusion of other important characteristics) to openminded thinking.
2. dissolution of unity between self and identity.
In other words, decentering yourself does not mean that you should neglect yourself, but consider other viewpoints as you work to solve a problem. In the case of healing our relationships with others, we want to “put ourselves into the other person’s shoes.”
However, changing behaviors can be threatening for some. It can mean a loss of comfort or some other benefit. Or it can mean gaining something, but we don’t know what it is to gain yet. These fears come from the human mind wanting circumstances, relationships, and resources to remain stable and measured. Still, decentering does not necessarily translate to destabilization. The idea that decentering the needs, wants, and agendas of a specific collection of individuals will destabilize their resources is flawed.
Perhaps the number one rebuttal to the expression Black Lives Matter is that All Lives Matter. This is an attempt at circumventing decentering. An extension of this is conflating the focus of other disadvantaged groups with the BLM movement. While there is some overlap between various groups, the problem with this response is the refusal to center the concerns of BLM when we discuss pertinent topics, as if this movement needs to be qualified by other groups with the same aims.
A peculiar assumption is if a person says that Black Lives Matter, they must mean that Only Black Lives Matter or Only American Black Lives Matter. This assumption illuminates the differences in schools of thought: when a white supremacist asserts All Lives Matter, they mean All White Lives Matter and That’s All That Should Matter. With this assertion, only caucasian individuals are people and have lives. Everyone else just exists.
Centering does not have to be a bad thing. We center patients when they are in the hospital, and center our children when they are upset or scared. However, centering can be problematic when taken out of proportion, as in the case of white nationalists. White people have legitimate concerns and are the majority of the population in this country. That does not mean their lived experiences apply to everyone else’s life.
By white supremacists foisting psychological projection onto others, the aims of the Black Live Matter movement becomes problematic. Then it is called Black Nationalism. Many of our ancestors have been refashioned through revisionist history to be separatists, mercenaries, and boogeymen, because of the inability to decenter.
What are the benefits of decentering?
One of the main benefits of decentering is enriching your life with the stories, knowledge, and voices that may or may not be like you in some way. You do not have to walk in fear that someone is going to forcefully relieve you of something that can’t be taken. Fear can be a prison. In the next article, I discuss how to decenter.
It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized.
~ Audre Lorde
Living Artist Project is a collaboration of and for living artists of all kinds. Showcase your original art (painting, photography, poetry, sculpture, refinishing, design, memoir, essays, etc.) on Karma Compass and connect with other artists while you get exposure and participate in a living venue based on wellness and passion.
Living Artist Projectfosters community, visibility and diversity by affirming living artists, their work and voices in the world. As part of the Karma Compass vision to hold loving community as a critical responsibility, Karma Compass recognizes that all living artists are in regular conversation with society, history and genealogy and that all artists deserve to thrive. Therefore, Living Artist Project sponsors, promotes, nurtures and connects artists from diverse cultures, experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, education levels and genders to participate in a progressive vision of artistic collaboration, focused on enriching society, expanding perspectives and generating cooperation in public spaces around health and wellness in its fullest definition and as expressed under the mantle of art.
How to Collaborate in Living Artist Project
Familiarize yourself with Karma Compass content and themes: karmacompass.me
Take good, high-quality photos of your art. Editing is just fine.
Email me your photo or written submissions (no more than 3 images or pages, please. If I want more, I’ll ask you).
Be sure to include your full name, including spelling, email or phone number and the title of the art. You may also like to include any other relevant detail (such as links to your website or other platforms—I’ll tag you in the post).
Artists will be paired on the posts based on content and images submitted.
By sending your submission, you agree to showcase your art on Karma Compass blog. If you would like to submit a photo essay for process work—just check with me before sending more than 3 images. At this time, there is lots of publicity. Be heard and seen now. If your work is published on https://karmacompass.me, you will receive a $25 gift card, cash or check.
And we must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical
actions that our dreams imply, and so many of our old ideas disparage.
~ Audre Lorde
In the slaughterhouse of love, they kill
only the best, none of the weak or deformed.
Don’t run away from this dying.
Whoever is not killed for love is dead meat.
I’m tired of workplace violence. I’m not just talking about bullets and bombs. I’m talking about physical aggression in the form of path-blocking and contemptuous stares. It’s the malicious, dehumanizing comments as I pass or when I step out of the room. It’s persistent and consistent disrespectful and unkind behaviors. It’s the willful taking of room in order to create scarcity and feelings of non-belonging in shared professional spaces. It’s a hostile racial climate orchestrated to marginalize. It’s aggressiveness with the end goal of dispossessing of employment and position. It’s thinly veiled abusive language that excludes, degrades and humiliates coworkers based on my gender and skin color. Come to think of it, this is all about bullets and bombs—the kinds that explode in the heart and mind leave people needlessly debilitated from a normal day at the office.
Causal violence harms because it attempts to annihilate and eviscerate the human spirit. Daily enactments of violence disconnect us from our highest selves. When we lose ourselves in the anonymity of numbers and algorithms, the resulting degradation making them permissible and tolerable. We have lost all need for personal, civic and social responsibilities requiring etiquette, good will and temperance, the fabric necessary to transform our thoughts before they become actions. These elements have combined and escalated the many ways we perpetuate violence in professionally shared social spaces.
La Nueva Obra
Now more than ever, we need a physical, spiritual and psychic prophylactic against workplace violence. We should be able to leave our homes and return in more or less the same state of health. The truth is otherwise. Incidences of harassment, direct assaults and numerous forms of mental and verbal abuse are systemic, and are eroding the mental and physical health of even the most vulnerable among us, causing a great economic gulf in society that is totally unnecessary. There are enough resources for all of us to thrive, and yet the gulch widens. It’s time to for a radical accountability that dismantles violence and oppression in the workplace. It’s on us to do it for ourselves.
We don’t get to choose our birth family, but as a transitional character working to understand and improve my psycho-social inheritance, I look to where I can strengthen the foundation of who I am. I’m long past the seductive intoxication of Impostor Syndrome—most of us survived college and grad school, and by the time we get to the office, we know where we belong, but then we encounter the barracks of the in crowd, who collude to haze black and Latina women out of the spaces we’ve rightfully earned . Enough is enough. But maybe there’s a part of this that really is about me. So let’s examine that, too.
According to a few trusted psychology studies from PsychologyToday.com and Havard HBR.org, the workplace seems to most closely replicate the family structure, and even if you’re from the lucky few without a dysfunctional childhood, you could work with people who bully, belittle, exclude and manipulate others as a routine part of their workday. That makes many vulnerable people subject to a proliferation of unhealthy professional behavior. It’s a lesson I’m still learning from my experiences teaching, running the office and writing in Silicone Valley. It’s time for a new status quo, one built on active professional kindness, authentic respectful communication and proactive training to unlearn the toxic behavior known to harm.
A former mental-health professional told me that people will often replicate their personal family culture in the workplace. Likely an unintentional consequence, we may carry familial habits into new spheres, such as the job market. Once in the professional space, the members of this work-life family varies tremendously. I’ve experienced violence, aggression and rudeness in the workplace. Let’s consider the contemporary alternatives to kindness in offices, college campuses and schools all over the country: contempt, violence and mass murder. It’s time to cultivate a consistent, daily professionalism and kindness in the workplace.
People from targeted groups, i.e., people of color, women, and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable to economic disenfranchisement—an extreme form of personal violence designed to attack on a spiritual-social-psychological that has strong evidence that it leads to depression, homelessness and unemployment that also results in loss of healthcare in addition to lost wages. Personal hero, Colin Kaepernick, stands for this new accountability: We witnessed him take a knee to protest the most important social-justice issue of our time—the killing of black people with impunity; he was economically disenfranchised in a very public and visible manner. Trump even demanded publicly, from our highest office, that the NFL fire any players who protested. This is an old standard of discrimination that reeks of Jim Crow. But if the NFL can change, we all can.
White men are not the only ones that need to take on the task of reforming the practices that reinforce violence and discrimination in the workplace. I’ll let Robin DiAngelo explain to white woman why you all don’t get a free pass. DiAngelo’s video about white privilege explains how easy it for us to miss our own reflection in the mirror. And neither do women of color, who may have internalized oppression, enact these same unhealthy behaviors. No one gets a pass.
So can we eradicate the toxic patterns that lead to stress-related illnesses, retaliatory violence in which the deeply-wounded individual returns to the sight of harm to enact revenge and economic hardship festering in toxic work environments? We’ve moved past the moments of permissiveness that have characterized the bad behavior seen in schools, offices and work spaces. Wake up to our own intent and impact. We have to interrupt toxic behavior when we see them. This new era demands that we each stay on our best behavior.
Who knows, you just could get on my list of heroes?
I’m always looking for a way to strengthen my relationships with young people. More than anyone in society, children are vulnerable. They need love and support to thrive. They need to be listened to and heard to grow confident in their abilities. I work to give them everything they need. Everything I never had as a child—a protectress, an advocate, a joyful ally. I’m not afraid to be fierce for them, to stand up for their rights and defend them against unjust behavior. I would rather take the burden of pain on for myself than let them face a brutal world alone.
Too many children fall prey to the very people who are entrusted with their care. Whether these children are athletes, students or family, we owe them a debt if they have been harmed under our care. Predators get away with abuse because children fear that they won’t be listened to or heard, and that no one will intervene on their behalf. Sadly, there is endless evidence of predation against innocent children. The Me Too movement draws attention to the numerous examples of professional women encountering sexual abuse and harassment, or worse, in the workplace. Yet movements like Me Too should ideally harness the energy of visibility to prevent further attacks on women and children. This is an important moment in history to work toward accountability in our society. Without individual accountability, we cannot change the outcomes and experiences of women or children, which we are now the focus national attention. It is simply not enough to look backward. We must demand accountability in the present moment as much as we seek accountability for past deeds.
The problem of abuse is more real than some of us care to admit. Children train in school to survive lethal gun attacks. They make few decisions regarding their own futures, and like women, are seldom believed. In that context, the least we can do is let them know that adults hear and respect their needs, their wants and their wishes—that even their dreams are sacred. Children deserve to have physical, emotional and psychological support and protection, and not solely after the fact.
It is up to women like me to act up on the behalf of children, to make sure history does not repeat itself. It is up to adults—every teacher, parent, uncle and grandparent, who cares to take up the slack. We must listen to children before there is a problem. We must be a person that a child will turn to for help and support. We have to give them grounds for the courage to speak up and tell the truth. We have to interrupt the violence and abuse perpetrated on others and ourselves as children witness. We can model behavior as we protect the future generation. No one gets a pass. We are all accountable. You may be asking yourself, “Where do I start?”
We can start by simply reading a book that gives us real, practical tools for working with and listening to young people. Below you will find a few gems gleaned from Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s book,How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. Start here, and read their treasure to learn more about how to be an ally to young people.
The following are excerpts from How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
4 Ways to Help a Child with Their Feelings:
1. Listen quietly and attentively. 2. Acknowledge and accept their feelings with a word or sound. 3.Give their feelings a name. 4.Give them their wishes in fantasy form.
5 Steps to Engage a Child’s Cooperation:
1. Describe what you see or describe the problem. 2. Give information. 3. Say it with a word. 4. Describe what you feel. 5. Write a note.
6 Ways to Encourage Autonomy:
1. Let children make choices. 2. Show respect for a child’s struggle. 3. Don’t ask too many questions. 4. Don’t rush to answer questions. 5. Encourage them to use sources outside the home. (**Topic dependent. Use wisdom.) 6. Don’t take away hope.
Instead of Saying “N0”:
Give the facts. Accept their feelings. Describe the problem. Give yourself time to think.
Use Praise to Raise Self-Esteem:
Describe what you see without judgment. Describe your feelings in response to behavior. Sum up the child’s praiseworthy behavior in one word.
This ENH Must-Have List is all about keeping your lips happy, day or night, through the season of partying. These four items are in my vanity case and have been tested and proved reliable for daily care. They are my absolute top picks for a moist pucker that pops.
Almost any MAC Lipstick makes me happy because of their lush and vibrant palettes and their top-shelf quality. My rage of the moment, however, is MAC Bronze Shimmer Lipstick. I can’t get enough of it. I use it on top of other colors to soften, sparkle and highlight. When I wear it alone, Bronze Shimmer makes me feel like Rihanna on the cover of W. Yes, that good.
Next, I have recently discovered the ultimate lip stain from Kat Von D: Everlasting Liquid Lipstick. Everlasting contains vitamin E, goes on wet and adheres to your lips in a lush matt finish. As the name implies, Everlasting gives hours of long wear in bold hues, like wintry plum Exorcism and the ever pouty Damned. Kat Von D offers an eight-color sampler with a wonderful array of autumn shades. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer, too.
“Winter is coming.” Seriously! Moistening with Estee Lauder Lip Conditioner is a daily must for a dry winter mouth. One glide leaves lips lubed up and light. With no fragrance or color, silky and supple kiss-‘em-goodnight lips are all you get. Wear it alone, or under your favorites. Plus, one application of Estee Lauder Lip Conditioner lasts forever without the build up of some balms, which makes it an economical investment.
Last up, for the ultimate in quick repair, try Global Beauty Care Vitamin C Oil. The great price of this serum makes it essential for any medicine cabinet. Just a drop of Global Beauty Care serum heals cracked, wind- or sun-chafed lips, overnight. I even use it on my hands, face and arms, but that’s another list!
For whatever reason, it started in high school. I knew the answers to the teachers’ questions, but didn’t raise my hand to share them. When I was called on, I blurted the quickest response possible so as to avoid being the center of attention. This is when my fear of public speaking took root, the kind that made me suffer through classes all the way through graduate school, avoid certain social events, and ultimately, feel as if I was living below my potential.
It’s not uncommon to feel your palms sweat before a presentation or the rapid beating in your chest before delivering a speech. But throughout my young adult life, I often skipped out on the presentation or speech altogether just to avoid that uncomfortable feeling.
The result was to feel bad anyway. Worse, even, because in addition to the anxiety, I now had a heaping dose of guilt and regret to pour on top—for missing out on knowledge and growth, overlooking opportunities to collaborate and share, and letting myself or others down. To this day, I often regret that I didn’t attend my MFA program graduation, denying my family—and myself—the chance to celebrate this milestone. (My parents still ask why they didn’t get to go to a ceremony.) And all because I couldn’t fathom reading from my thesis to an audience.
Years later, when it came time to go on tour for my first published novel, I had to remind myself of the way my particular anxiety feeds on itself, hurting me rather than protecting me. Because this time, I was determined to show up.
Those prone to listening more than speaking still have a lot to share. Writing has been my salvation, providing me with an outlet for that reflection. The Hour of Daydreamsrepresented seven years of writing and believing in my words, and I had to give it every chance to find success. This meant public speaking engagements, sometimes in front of more than 100 people. How did I tame my anxiety beast?
I didn’t. I had to accept that it was there and plow forward anyway. It’s all too easy to wait until you’re “ready” before taking a leap, large or small, but “ready” can be elusive, and one can wind up staying stationary for too long.
I don’t believe in changing for others’ sake. I believe in choosing the spaces where one is comfortable, where one thrives. Readings are not a requirement of being published. As much as my publisher encouraged my journey to becoming a public author, the desire to share the background, process, and inspiration behind my work ultimately came from me, not the press. That’s how I knew it to be genuine.
Before stepping to the podium, I knew there were things I could do to make the process easier. I opted to sign on for a small number of key appearances versus the quintessential 20-city tour. I came prepared for each of these events, practicing my excerpts aloud and reviewing the themes they cover. I cleared my schedule before a reading, making time to relax and breathe, to enter a space of mindfulness and quiet. I found little things to bring out the joy of the occasion, like wearing a new dress (always blue or purple to match the book cover), or planning a special dinner. Along with bookmarking the passages I’d read from, I tucked Kleenex into the pages of my novel, because nervousness makes my nose run. Through all of this, as many times as I felt nervous or afraid, I also felt excited and grateful, and came to realize how much these emotions are intertwined.
And even though my heart felt like it might explode before those readings, as the words came out, it calmed. I’ve found that like writing, sharing aloud brings out a whole new energy, opening up others to share of themselves in turn. Again and again, I’ve found renewed appreciation for friends, family, peers, and strangers with whom I share the love of literature and stories. One of my fears has been to make mistakes, and I’ve made many in this process. I try not to replay them too often afterward. I try to forgive and accept my limitations.
Speaking in front of a crowd is easier now, but still feels unnatural to me. Perhaps it always will. And that’s okay too.
Renee Macalino Rutledge’s debut novel, The Hour of Daydreams, has been dubbed “essential reading” by Literary Mama, “one of 24 books to get excited for in 2017” by The Oregonian, and a “captivating story of love and loss unlike any other” by Foreword Reviews. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works as a nonfiction book editor, writes the “That’s So Alameda Column” for Alameda Magazine, and regularly explores the tidepools and redwoods with her family.
Two years ago when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the National Anthem, there was a lot of disgust expressed by fans and opposers. Complaints ranged from bigots’ scathing label of “uppity negro” to the more benign statements such as, “There’s a time and place for everything,” meaning, “Not now.” These were nearly the same words that were used to try to quiet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and delay the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the issue of protesting on an NFL field, for any reason, is a matter of national debate, and a very timely one, given the state of our democracy. Most of this dispute comes down to race—the artificial categories designed to separate people and create a thinly veiled caste system in our society. None of this is new. Humankind has always been engaged in this brutal struggle for power. Fortunately, history has shown that the challengers to tyrannical rule often win though they don’t often reap the rewards in their lifetimes.
The story of Colin Kaepernick is so profoundly similar to the biblical tale of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that, for me, it is an inevitable comparison. In brief, King Nebuchadnezzar builds a huge golden idol and commands that when the music plays, everyone should fall prostrate before it and carry on with a spectacle. As with any self-adoring tyrant, the king imposes consequences for disobedience. He commands, “whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:5-6). More concerning than the king’s edict is the response of his people: Like good Nazis, residents lined up to make sure none of the perverted rules were broken. Luckily, these concerned citizens reported Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the authorizes for not bending a knee at the appointed time, requiring the king to kick up the heat in the inferno, looking to make an example of the three men. (If this is beginning to sound familiar, you are paying attention.) Here’s where the miracle happens: Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego’s lives are saved though the lives of the soldiers who deliver them to their fate are not.
Okay, so maybe Kaepernick is not being thrown into a literal fire, but dismissing and preventing him from working in the NFL is equally severe punishment for kneeling when the authorities insist one stand. This is the strength of fear: It teaches other NFL players, and mere mortals, to comply or suffer a similar destiny. Kaepernick, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had an unflinching conviction to stand apart for the sake of their beliefs. They did so even at the risk of great peril because the rules were unethical and wicked, and they made a conscientious choice to challenge the status quo.
This familiar rhetoric of oppression—appeals based on rewards, coercion and/or threats of violence are eerily similar to the current language of our president against Kaepernick and anyone else with a differing opinion. Essentially, Colin Kaepernick’s broken heart would not allow him to stand during the anthem. Wishing to protest gun violence against black men by leveraging his fame, visibility and power for the sake of others, Kaepernick silently bowed his head. His is a sacred endeavor worth our admiration and support, because what he does, he does for all of us. If sports leagues begin to fire black men for defiance, as the president and several other powerful figures suggest, we are witnessing a new form of discrimination and punitive blackballing; these are simply new methods of coercion and intimidation, designed to keep people from living with integrity and exercising their right to free speech. Were it not for Kaepernick’s courage, which was above all a deep compassionate wail against the extraordinary violence meted out to black men all over the country, we would simply go on, anesthetized to the plight of an entire segment of the population. Instead, the nation is discussing the issue every week, for hours.
At last, more NFL athletes are beginning to speak up. They seem to be reacting more to the attempts of the president to silence non-violent, peaceful protest than to Kaepernick’s original stance for social justice. Nonetheless, their actions serve as a show of solidarity and support for freedom. They seem to say that they are protesting because they are free. This is the life breath of America: Liberty. Throughout history, individuals like Colin Kaepernick have stepped into the bright light of public scrutiny in order to bring about change. Kaepernick’s necessary anti-collusion lawsuit seeks to reform the NFL’s ability to stifle a player’s individual ability to thrive. This is important for numerous black men, who wish to participate freely in sports and other forms of civic engagement without experiencing monetary repercussions. Let’s not make the mistake of minimizing the situation. Kaepernick’s case is clearly as much a civil rights case as Plessy v. Fergusson, Roe v. Wade or numerous other important cases that have been heard in the past century.
Without key individuals stepping forward to demand justice, the courts have historically remained deaf to cases that have later had far-reaching beneficial consequences for future generations. That’s why Colin Kaepernick’s early and consistent non-violent protest to relentless police aggression and fatal force against black men is of vital importance to our future as an open democracy. Like any visionary, imagining a better world, the bravery employed by Colin Kaepernick in using his body on the front lines of transformation is critical to altering our current trajectory. Kaepernick is using his status, voice and position to further the cause of justice. The ripples of his actions we are only beginning to feel.