Lately it seems that I am suffering from a severe case of déjà vu. It appears as if I am reliving the 1960s all over again. In a way, that’s a good thing. A lot of good things happened in the United States in the late 1960s. A lot of bad things happened as well, the most memorable for me was the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. I was not in Chicago for the convention. I was in Washington DC at the time, but I did protest against the war and did march in support of Eugene McCarthy for the democratic nomination. Much like the efforts to get Bernie Sanders nominated this year, our efforts in 1968 to get Eugene McCarthy nominated were unsuccessful. We were unsuccessful again in 1972 trying to get George McGovern, another antiwar candidate for president, the Democratic nomination.
1968 was an extremely interesting year. The summer Olympics were held in Mexico City that year. On the political front, the black power movement was gaining a great deal of strength. Two American athletes, both black, won medals in the same event and when they were on the podium getting their metals, they both raised their hand in the black power fist salute. The reaction at the time by the media and much of the American public was extremely negative. People felt that doing that at the Olympics was extremely inappropriate. Today John Carlos and Tommy Smith are seen as heroes of the civil rights movement.
During the preseason this year, Colin Kaepernick, the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, started refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem. This action was in protest of the indiscriminate use of extreme violence I police officers against alleged hit black suspects. In many of the cases, the suspect was guilty of nothing other than being black. Colin, who was born to a white mother and a black father, but raised by a white couple, felt that it was necessary for him to make a statement about what was going on.
The last preseason game the 49ers played was in San Francisco. Well actually, Santa Clara, the home of their new stadium. The fans booed Kaepernick royally, which I found highly inappropriate, but not surprising to tell you the truth. Most football fans these days are white corporate types. They are the only ones who can really afford to go to games, given the prices that do teams charge for attending a game. In most cases. The only way you get tickets to a game is to buy season tickets and often you have to spend several years on waiting list to qualify for season tickets. So it is safe to assume that the people who attend NFL games are relatively affluent, which in this country pretty much means white. I am glad to say that niter the team nor the NFL leave office has come down with any kind of disciplinary action against Her neck up to this point. Given the track record of the NFL in other cases involving discipline, it is possible that if there is enough pressure by fans, Kaepernick will be disappointed.
I was watching the season opening game Thursday night between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, a replay of Super Bowl L. During the national anthem, one of the black Denver players knelt rather than stand during the playing of the national anthem. That is the same action that Are Nick took in his last game. I was pleased to see other black players joining in the protest. This Sunday is the opening Sunday of the regular season. I am looking forward to seeing how many players actually support Kaepernick by mimicking what he has been doing. Hopefully there will be a fair number of them. The more the merrier because it will mean that the NFL legal office will hesitate a bit for they try to discipline Kaepernick after the fact.
One final comment: we all like to believe that racism in America does not exist anymore. Far from it. I live in the South and get my news pretty much from a station in Springfield Missouri. Also, those stations run a lot of political ads for extremely conservative candidates. Mainly Republicans. However, the Democratic candidate for governor is almost as conservative as the Republicans these days. I pity the people in Missouri. Anyway, listening to the rhetoric and the soundbites by the politicians and reading between the lines, it is quite evident that there is still a great deal of very subtle but very intense racial discrimination here in the South. It is time that at least the Blacks in this country and those whites who support racial equality opened their ice to the truth and stood up and said enough already.