In light of members of the media from MSNBC, CNN, the Minneapolis Star and others being shot at during rioting this weekend, Sunday morning I penned a piece about journalists putting themselves in harm’s way.
That piece has since been scrapped and I have become more focused on the cause of the unrest in our country.
Maybe now with the protests and rioting that is happening nationwide, people will pay attention to the message.
Just maybe we should have paid attention to what Colin Kaepernick was trying to say when in 2016 he sat during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. The following week he took a knee.
Just maybe we should have paid attention when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medalists in the 200 meters, gave a silent, symbolic black power salute while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in 1968.
They wore no shoes to mark black poverty; Smith wore a black scarf for black pride; Carlos wore a string of beads for all those who were lynched. They each wore one black glove, because Carlos had forgotten his pair.
“It was a cry for freedom and for human rights,” Smith told the “Smithsonian”.
Unlike Kaepernick, Smith and Carlos went on to football careers.
Australian runner Peter Norman who stood with Smith and Carlos as the silver medal winner was never allowed to compete for Australia again because of his actions.
Just maybe we should have paid attention when more than 200,000 people gathered in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, to demand equal rights for African-Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and roused a nation to action.
It was in 2014 that Eric Garner first uttered those words “I can’t breathe.”
A series of riots and civil disturbances took place in Oakland and the surrounding areas.
Closer to home, protests erupted in the streets of Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot by a Ferguson police officer.
Those people were trying to send a message: apparently, one that has not being heard.
“Back then, we were called rogues. People said that we didn’t deserve jobs, but this is what we were talking about then,’’ Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall told ESPN on taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016. “I think people are looking at [Kaepernick] now like, ‘OK, maybe he knew.’ People didn’t want to hear the message after, ‘Oh, they were kneeling.’ They didn’t want that message, weren’t ready for it, didn’t listen.”
The ultimate protest was by Thich Quang Duc in 1963. Duc, a 66-year-old Buddhist monk, protested the South Vietnamese government’s persecution of Buddhists at a busy crossroads in Saigon.
He doused himself in petrol, lit a match and burned to death.
Maybe we need to listen this time. Maybe it’s time things change.