I know as much about the NFL as I do about football itself. I try, I honestly do. Our youngest two play flag football for an NFL league and besides touch downs and extra points I’m kind of clueless. Two weeks ago our youngest got knocked down during the game which sent his coach onto the field to have words with the ref…I really wasn’t sure what was going on because it’s football, you get knocked down…you get back up, most of the time. My son gave me a run down of what happened and why there should have been one of those yellow bean bags tossed on the play -I still wasn’t sure what exactly the issue was. I do however know about the issue with the kneeling NFL players.
After the events that took place in Charlottesville we had an open discussion in our home about racism, patriotism and some other off topic things that got thrown into the conversation, we have four kids from 11-17, it happens. We try to do this with our kids and sometimes their friends as often as we can. We want to hear what their thoughts are and what they think we can do to move forward, find healing and come together as a community. We don’t always agree, but we love each other and respect each other. It was during this conversation that one of our kids told me that my theory of having one on one conversations and really listening to others was just not good enough. He said that it wouldn’t reach 4 billion people. Well, to my defense I really don’t have the platform to reach 4 billion people…I struggle with reaching the 1k friends I have on Facebook in all honesty. I also don’t have the means to spend thousands of dollars right now to film or broadcast some kind of simulcast or something. So I am going to revert to my one on one conversations.
Everyone has an opinion on the NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest to racism. And the only defense I can offer them is that it is 100% their Constitutional right to do so. Nobody can make them stand. If this is how they are going to use their platform then they have every right to do so. But I don’t think it’s good enough.
Is racism a thing?
Do we live in the greatest Nation in the world?
Will we boycott the NFL?
Absolutely not. Our children do and will continue to play NFL Flag Football.
People who have been victims of racism didn’t ask to be treated that way. My opinion on racism is that it is 100% fear driven. Like in most cases of fear it’s because it is unfamiliar and unknown – get to know people of other races. In some cases this has turned into hatred. Hatred is never OK.
Just like victims of racism we have victims of war. Just like I have a black family who lives two doors down, I have a veteran who lives a few doors down in the opposite direction. I treat them both with the same respect I would like from them. We have soldiers in this country who have gone to fight for the freedom of these players to not only play football and be safe while doing it, but to kneel during the National Anthem as well. I will not pretend that I have any clue what it is like to be victimized in either of these ways. I cannot pretend to know what it feels like to be a minority in any way what so ever. Have I ever come close to being the only white person in the room? Only once in my life, and my husband was there and then the pastor showed up who was also white. It was at a wedding and I was 100% safe.
I can however, speak from my own personal experiences with having had some great one on one conversations with victims of racism and war.
There are veterans who have enlisted and ones who were drafted. And there is absolutely no difference between them. Some can carry it better then others, but every one of them I have spoken with have experienced and seen some of the most horrific things any human has had to witness. These men and women carry some of the most heavy burdens anyone ever has to carry. It’s a life long battle they face as victims of war. And while we wouldn’t at first glance think of them as victims, because they are carrying out the actions of war, if they have been fortunate enough to come home, they are forever scarred by not just their actions but of what they have had to witness and endure. I know these things because I have had some of those one on one conversations with veterans.
After returning from war, many of our veterans suffer a life long struggle with PTSD. A friend of mine shared that something as simple as the smell of diesel from a bus passing can trigger his PTSD, flashbacks, and allow him to slip into a dark place. Many struggle with survivor guilt, a life long torment of watching your friend who you shared a ration with 5 minutes ago get their head blown off. This is something I have thankfully never had to witness, but so many have, so I can raise my children in a country where they can go to school without having to be fearful that they may not see me again. I have personally had to watch one of the people I love the most suffer in silence for more then triple the years he was old when he went to fight for our country. That deserves people to get on their feet. The man I held the door for last week, reluctantly walked through it after not wanting a lady to hold the door for him, because I told him Veteran trumped lady, he deserves to be stood for. The person on the corner who the VA has forgotten about who is homeless, he deserves to be stood for. Our country’s flag represents our freedoms and the beyond brave heroes who have risked their lives to allow us to maintain those freedoms.
I sat with a woman once who I had believed to be white. However, all of her decor in her home had black influence. From paintings on the wall to figurines on her coffee table. I thought it odd but didn’t mention it. I thought maybe her husband was black, I was just getting to know her. We ended up having a two hour long conversation about racism, slavery and the fact that she was a mixed race child born to a black slave who’s master was white. She was kind and sweet and we had an amazing conversation. She shared her heart and her struggles through the years. She was around 70 years old, and sadly I lost touch with her about 8 year ago when she moved. I won’t ever forget her story. I can’t imagine her anguish or her mother’s. One of my favorite people lives up the street from me, our kids call her Grandma. She was born in Germany and is Jamaican. We have had some good talks, about what it’s like in other countries verses here, and what it was like for her to raise her children in this community. She is one of my dearest sweetest friends, I am so thankful for her and her love for me and my family. I believe that…
The abolishment of slavery deserves to be stood for.
Desegregation deserves to be stood for.
That one of my boys’ best friends can ride the same bus as them to school, eat at the same table as them in the cafeteria, and walk home from the bus stop with his arm around my kid, deserves to be stood for.
Blues musician Daryl Davis has been befriending KKK members for 30 years. And has apparently gotten around 200 of them to give up their robes. How has he done this? By having one on one conversations with these men. The same thing my son told me won’t make a big impact. The first time he had one of these conversations some would say it was a coincidental encounter, if you believe in coincidences, I do not. He has some of his music up on YouTube, guess what? He has a couple thousand views collectively on his music. Last year’s Super Bowl had 111.3 Million viewers and that doesn’t count the people who were at the game or who watched it after the fact. NFL players have a HUGE platform. HUGE. I would say probably one of the biggest platforms in this country besides the news channels. Who knows I could be wrong, happened to me once. But in all seriousness, that is huge. And yes, kneeling has gotten people’s attention. Do I blame them for using their platform, no way. I commend them for it, but I think they can do better. If one of them walked into one of my kid’s classroom and sat and shared what their life was like growing up, their struggles and how they preserved, they would hang on every word. Kneeling during the National Anthem in all honestly is just confusing to an 11 year old. I asked our 11 year old son today if he knew about the kneeling, he said, “yes”. I asked him why they were kneeling, he said, “I don’t know”. Share your heart with us, every age gets that. We were made to do life together.
NFL players have the platform and the means to make a MAJOR impact.
In 2017 there were around 1,696 players (32 teams which are each allowed 53 players) in the NFL. That’s a good amount of people. The Gazette Review shows an average player salary is around 1.9 million per year. With one quarterback that plays for the Colts making over 24 million a year, which they were quick to note that because of the tax bracket he probably only gets about half of that. That’s a lot of people with a lot of money that could make an epic impact. Show up at our schools, our churches, these flag football fields and have some interaction, some one on one talks. Please share your stories of racism and scars from being victims. Talk to our suburban majority white school district students and share your heart. Do it in a powerful way to encourage, build up and inspire people for a better fear free tomorrow. A black Christian male educator I know said this, “…courageous conversations need to happen in classrooms across the country.” Who better then these kneeling NFL players who have a heart and passion to try to end racism?
No human deserves to be treated with hatred. God made us all in His image. That means we are to treat each other the way He treats us, with unconditional love. Veterans didn’t deserve to be spit on returning from a war people didn’t believe in any more than someone of a minority race should have to use separate rest rooms, be unable to attend school, enslaved or worse. It is not OK.
And while I have personally never had to face either of these things, I am passionate about both. I have seen the fall out of both wounded veterans and wounded victims of racism. I have seen their hearts break. I have also seen the triumph of people coming together, carrying each other’s burdens and beginning the healing process. I am passionate about bringing people together, about loving and serving one another. My kids will continue to play football (our youngest one’s dream and goal is to be an NFL player one day, he’s 11, I hope he has a growth spurt) and will stand for our country’s National Anthem always. We will continue to have open discussions with our children and their friends. We will continue to have conversations with people from other racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds and listen to them. We will continue to support our military, our veterans and their families. We will teach respect of all people, of all races, of all religions, of the great Nation we live in and those who served to allow it to continue to be. We can do better. They can do better. Good enough, isn’t good enough. Let’s finish what we started by
Showing up & standing up.
With your platform and means how do you plan to help ‘bridge the gap’ in our communities and our nation?