COLIN KAEPERNICK: TEACHING US BY EXAMPLE: Truth of the matter is – we need each other desperately

Have your parents or someone you know ever told you, “Do as I say, not as I do”?

I mean…many times we come across individuals from all walks of life, whether it be family, friends, co-workers, folks in our neighborhoods, etc., where you have those “Do as I say, not as I do” folks trying to give you advice and influence your life.

To break it down in layman’s terms ( for those who don’t get it), the person who makes the statement is usually telling you that they don’t want you to imitate their exhibited behavior, but they just want you to obey their instructions – whatever they may be. Talk about hypocrisy right?

The best example I can give you is what is happening with this American flag fiasco.

You have folks who want to tell NFL athletes not to ‘disrespect the flag’ by taking a knee during the national anthem, but many of those same folks literally disrespect the flag every day in various ways. But, I don’t want to get lost in that false narrative right now, let me get to my real point, which is…at what point are we, as Black Americans, going to finally get it? Get what?

I’m glad you asked. I’m talking about getting the much-needed message that the only way Black people are going to truly experience the America we read about, sing about and pray about on a regular basis – that this is the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ – is if we come together in unity. Whether you realize it or not, Colin Kaepernick has actually shown us all the way, and is literally teaching us all by example – in plain sight. Let’s talk about it.

As much as we probably hate to talk about our current plight, truth is, there seems to be a sense of ongoing hopelessness within the hearts and minds of many Black Americans today. Facts! We keep protesting issues, fighting issues, arguing issues and overcoming issues, to the point that it’s becoming repetitive and tiring to say the least.

But at the end of the day we persevere and keep fighting don’t we? Of course we do, because that is who we are. Black people are a resilient people.

But check it out. In my estimation, for the first time since the Civil Rights movement, I believe Black people have been able to proactively rally around the efforts of a select individual, who has taken the risk of putting their life, career and comfort, on the line, for the purpose of addressing issues that are bigger than their personal wealth, fame or fortune. Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and many more can be mentioned as those who did it during the Civil Rights movement, but Kaepernick is doing it right now.

As I look back and see how many of my historical heroes and (s)heroes refused to look upon their current realities with despair, but chose to fight to bring about change instead, I can’t help but be inspired about an individual who would choose to do the same thing in the midst of today’s climate. If not for the personal sacrifices of those select heroes and (s)heroes during the Civil Rights movement we wouldn’t have many of the freedoms we enjoy today.

We need many of those same freedoms now, to be honest, which is why we need to stand with Kaepernick, and with each other.

Truth of the matter is…we need each other desperately. Whenever Black people choose to abandon each another by disregarding collective Black unity, we find ourselves all alone, and in need of assistance, oftentimes from people who consider us ‘inmates’, ‘thugs’, and ‘sons of bitch*s’, as opposed to equal citizens who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Sadly, many of us don’t even realize how important collective Black unity really is, until they find themselves in a position where they really need it.

There’s a poem written by Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes, that I believe speaks to our current need as Black people to come together in unity, that goes:

“Next fall, when you see Geese heading South for the Winter, flying along in V formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way: as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are. When the Head Goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with geese flying South. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind? Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.”

I love this poem, in that I believe in order for Black people to truly succeed in this country, and change the current collective reality we are facing, we must come together, we must appreciate one another and we must have one another’s back by any means necessary.

To me, that is what success looks like, and one of the many things Kaepernick has taught me since he took a knee back in 2016.

As a matter of fact, Kaepernick has been a master teacher who has taught me many other things, including the fact that as a collective group we need to:

  1. Know the power of the platform we currently possess
  2. Always do what we know is right, even if it is an unconventional approach
  3. Be prepared to pay the price for our sacrifice, no matter the cost
  4. Realize that eventually, at least one person will follow us when they are exposed to truth and moved by our righteous cause
  5. Endure the criticism NOW, because in due time, we will eventually go down in the history books as the catalyst for change because of our personal sacrifices

The truth is…we wouldn’t have had Affirmative Action, or the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, if it wasn’t for the personal sacrifices of select individuals. But they needed help and support, even if it was from a remnant of people who understood the cause and were prepared to personally sacrifice also.

The truth is…in 2017…we wouldn’t be talking about racism, systematic oppression and police brutality, at the level we are talking about it now, if Kaepernick hadn’t taken a knee in protest.

I give credit where credit is due, but Kaepernick still needs our help and support, even if it is from a remnant of us who understand the cause for which he has taken a knee, and from those who are truly prepared to personally sacrifice also.

Let’s hope many of us learn from Kaepernick and then pay it forward for the next generation of Black kings and queens who are looking for us to teach them by example.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com.