Nike came out with a new commercial that will, ironically, air during the opening of the NFL season featuring the controversial figure of Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has caused a stir by protesting racism in America by kneeling during the national anthem. How dare he! Hear my thoughts on it in this hour-long podcast below!
In the United States there has been a lot of problems culminating with Donald Trump being elected president. People who want real and significant change in the U.S. voted in Obama where he did very little in terms of real change. Obama himself has come on after each school shooting and has said basically, “we need to do something, but I don’t have the authority to do anything.” As much as I love Bernie Sanders and everything he campaigned for, if he was elected he would be able to do the same as Obama, very little. So why can’t these well intentioned humanitarian politicians do any real change? Well there are a lot of reasons that are all political and have to do with who is really running things, the rich and powerful. Hillary Clinton is the perfect example of this Elitist group. She is the status quo and caters to the billionaires who support her. Donald Trump is rich enough to be a part of this group but for some reason is not, probably because he is too selfish to do anything to make anyone happy besides himself.
America has their police killing black people in the streets for no absolutely no reason. They have mass shootings less than 100 days apart from one another. (see below)
Now if you think that standing in line and checking off a box is going to fix these things, you are out of your mind. Change will not happen through the illusion of democracy. That’s right, I said democracy is an illusion, Democracy is the real opium of the people (So there Karl Marx!). Everyone in a democracy feels like they have a say in what happens when really they don’t. They say it’s your civil duty to vote because it makes you feel like something is in your control… it’s not! The rich and poweful want you to vote because they want the status quo, Donald Trump is the closest the people could come to rebelling against this system. Donald Trump is like when you light off a firework in your hand, you do it just to see what would happen even though you know it might blow your hand off.
So how does real change happen if voting doesn’t change anything? Well in other countries that are “less developed” than America, they take to the streets in protest. They start a civil war if their government won’t listen to them. Watch this trailer below for Winter On Fire, a documentary about the Ukrainian people taking to the streets to fight for what they want. When people don’t get what they want, they rise up and force their government to listen to them. All democracy is doing is making false promises about how to fix things and about how much say we have. Fix school shootings, that seems like priority number one, but no one can because of Democracy!
Now there have been some rioting and protesting after Trump was elected. I applaud the fact that people are passionate enough about issues to actually protest. I disagree with those who say protesting doesn’t do anything, for Martin Luther King Jr. it seemed to work very well, where did that mentality go? The problem is that the protesting going on is against something, Donald Trump, but what is it for? MLK protested FOR equality, not just against racism. That movement had specific things that they demanded happen in an immediate time frame. That is what we need now, unity over certain important issues. Gun control would be first on my list, if you don’t want to see more children get shot then organize a rally for some specific gun laws to be put in place. Lobbyist have shown how much power they have, but that power is really just the power of protest. When the suggestion of a new gun law comes in, the NRA squashes it down by protesting (mind you they have lots of money to back them up which is why politicians don’t dare go against them).
But I would argue that the real power is public opinion. I am addicted to documentaries lately, and I see how much impact a simple movie can have. Look at Black Fish, a documentary about Sea World and cruelty to the Orca Whales in captivity. That movie had a major hand in the closing of Sea World’s across North America! How can a movie have such an impact? Public opinion. If the general population agrees that something is wrong then the government has no choice but to act. However when the majority is only 51% that really isn’t a majority. That is the real failing of the U.S. political system, split the country into two groups, make them hate each other and the rich and powerful can decide whatever they want because Republicans and Democrats are too busy fighting over what they don’t agree on to unite against the things they do agree on. There are things that everyone hates and everyone loves (or most hate and love). Not many people think racism is good, no one thinks school shootings are acceptable, not many like the death penalty… but those issues never came up in the debates.
So America, I encourage you to take to the streets and organize protests. The Black Lives Matter movement is one of the best things I’ve seen from the States in a long time. Just look at the people in that picture! It is inspiring to see people marching in the streets for something important like equality. Support these movements! And even if you don’t agree with the intricacies of the specific protests, appreciate the courage and the passion that is behind these protests. To sit in your chair and criticize people who love their country enough to go out and actually do something is cowardly. Don’t be a coward, go stand up for what you believe in!
There has been a lot of controversy over NFL players protesting racism in America. Now there definitely is systemic, institutionalized racism in the United States, that is a fact. It is clear in the schooling system where some schools are rich and white while some are poor and black. It’s obvious when the overwhelming majority of the prison population is black and yet white crimes are equally (if not more) prevalent yet less likely to get punished. Look at the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort made a career out of his crime. Even after he got caught he served a minimal sentence and now is cashing in on his previous crimes with books, a movie and seminars that teach people how to be better scam artists. A high school in Jackson Mississippi had a segregated prom until 2008, changing that caused an uproar in the town (see the documentary Prom Night in Mississippi). Racism in America is a very important, very relevant problem that needs to be addressed. Colin Kapernick is doing what every American should be doing by peacefully protesting racism and using his elevated platform to do it is all the better.
Ok, well let’s lay it out… Cops are shooting black men in the streets for no reason. Are they racist for doing that? Yes, but so are you and me and everyone. The uncomfortable truth we don’t want to deal with is that we all make assumptions based on skin colour, nationality, religion, sexuality and gender. Part of what makes humans more advanced than animals is that we have evolved to have the ability to make judgments about our environment very quickly. Like a deer that assumes every noise in the woods is danger, except our assumptions have evolved to be much more complex. It isn’t necessarily wrong for a person to think that maybe a black guy is armed and dangerous. Given the media we consume where every black man on TV is armed and dangerous, given the cops frequency of dealing with armed and dangerous black men, given the fact that prisons are filled with black men (unjustly) and that most black men are in poor desperate neighbourhoods where crime is the norm (unjustly), I think it is pretty reasonable to think that. Those are true facts, which is why I said racism is institutionalized, so how do we fix it? Furthermore I think all of us would make those assumptions too. The police officer isn’t being racist, he’s scared. The problem comes when you give that person a gun, tell them they have to use it to defend themselvess and their community, then militarize them with tanks and swat gear (Jon Oliver video) and pump them full of fear.
The Root of the Problem
Many claim Racism is the root of the problem but that’s not entirely true on its own. The real root is fear. Americans are terrified of Islam and ISIS, guns, crime, schools shootings, Y2K, killer bees, SARS, west Nile, Zika, bird flu, suicide, car accidents, heart disease… You name it and Americans are afraid of it. They have an alarm on their locked house and a safe in a locked room inside that house. The media reports every scary thing that ever happens, which causes fear, which causes everyone to assume the worst which causes more scary things happening and the cycle continues. When people live in fear, they act out of that fear and act in irrational (racist) ways.
So what cures fear? Peace. The only way to have peace in society though is to find an inner personal peace. A peaceful heart brings about a peaceful mind, which can bring about a peaceful society. Now I sound like a Buddhist…. I work in a Catholic Church because I believe it is the answer, or one of the answers to this problem of fear and this unpeacefulness we all feel. We are focused on the wrong things, power, money, honour, fame… Rather than faith, family, friendship, truth, goodness and beauty. Parents will bring their kid to hockey 6 nights a week because they care more about having the next Sydney Crosby than having dinner with the family. What are we teaching the next generations? The good news is that we have the power to change all this, so let’s get started!