Chance The Rapper cleared up statements that he wouldn’t be present at a recent ESPN’s Forum about celebrities’ and athletes’ responsibility to speak up on issues. OnTwitter he announced that he wouldn’t be present at the forum, but also went into detail about how it is imperative for athletes and celebrities to use their platforms for positive change in dealing with injustices like police brutality, capital murder, equality of pay, etc.
I feel like in the last 5 years we’ve treated police brutality in sort of a cycle; a young man or woman is shot and killed in public, there is a massive uproar on social media and the communities affected, then the news cycle takes place and (new news about other attention grabbing stuff gets us,) so then we forget about the importance and threats of black lives until the next one is shot in the street.
Real change doesn’t happen with something like police brutality. It’s a polarizing issue almost; people are so far against or so far for it that we simply can’t find a compromise, so we stop fighting until someone else dies because we can’t bear to lose to the other political side.
I don’t get extremely political on my social medias, but when NFL quarterback, Collin Kaepernick didn’t stand for the National Anthem at one of their preseason games, I understood his side and reasoning perfectly.
I remember the night when officer Darren Wilson was not given an indictment for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown. I was watching CNN with my mom in the living room and I had the same feeling that I had when I watched George Zimmerman cleared of any charges. It was a sinking feeling of deja vu. The morning after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, I walked into my U.S. history class, where we had never spoken of any type of police brutality of that year. The bell rang for the pledge, and we stood, and recited the pledge.
It hit me, when the voice over the intercom began; I couldn’t recite those words that falsely meant safety and justice to all in our country. So for the rest of my high school career I was the only one in my first period classes not to recite the pledge of allegiance. I stood because I didn’t want to be yelled at by a classmate wearing a confederate flag t-shirt questioning my patriotism. I felt indifferent about the pledge before this, because I’ve known of so many judicial cases not being served the correct form of justice. I want to be a person of honesty and kindness, and not someone who is in denial of justice in America.
You may think, “Wow, Emma, that’s disrespectful for you not to say the pledge when people died for your freedoms.” What I’d say in reply is, “Wow, isn’t it beyond disrespect for officers who take an oath to protect us are also profiling fellow human beings of color?” I think the way we treat each other in this country is horrible, and I believe that the reason for that is because many of us lack empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We do not put ourselves in others shoes and try to realize what they are going through; instead we label them ‘thug’ or ‘thief’, when in actuality the person maybe impoverished because they can’t get a job due to our systematic racism and discrimination in the workforce. The majority of privileged Americans don’t get involved in the conversation. They don’t have dialogues with others, and in turn they don’t use their privilege for positive change. They wake up in the morning and worry about themselves, not about how many people get shot during in inner cities due to police control and gun safety.
Collin Kaepernick has made, in my opinion, the right choice to not stand during the National Anthem with the privilege that his stardom has brought. He also has experienced the same oppression that, Michael Brown did, that Trayvon Martin did, that Sandra Bland did, that Tamir Rice did, and that many others like them did.
These athletes and celebrities that you shame for disrespecting our country and our religious culture, remember that they are as human as you and I. And the reason that they are boldly speaking out is because they go through the same things that we have argued about. We idolize them and from there they have our attention, so why not put the attention to good use.
*Now, I know we live in a country where we have many freedoms and rights that people in other nations pray to have, but we should not allow oppression and inequality to exist in this country.
Hello, I’m Emma Eekhoff. I’m a 17-year-old that would rather be networking for business than at a party with my high school friends. I’m not afraid to share my stance on something, whether it is an art form like music or recent events in the world. I’ve been writing in a journalist setting for only a few years, through my high school’s online newspaper, The Growl Online or for a music blog. I love to connect and network with new people in the worlds of business and music, travel to new places and eat new interesting foods.