Which means we’re getting closer to understanding what we should have at the start: This refocused pursuit of life, liberty and equality for all is not restricted to African-Americans.
Rapinoe’s decision to kneel for the national anthem prior to the Seattle Reign’s soccer game Saturday night was welcome because it adds another demographic. Best known as a key member of the US Women's National Team that won Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012, Rapinoe is acting not from a black perspective, but from that of a gay while female.
That’s progress, which is Kaepernick’s stated goal.
With Rapinoe standing behind the 49ers quarterback, how long must we wait before high-profile straight white male athletes – or celebrities – fall in line?
The quest for equality generally is viewed as an “us” or “them” equation, too often drawing racial lines and thus limiting its broad potential. It’s not that. It’s a matter of right or wrong. The Black Lives Matter movement is multicultural, an outgrowth of people of all stripes seeing injustice and taking an active role in fighting it. Though there are rogue elements within – that always is the case when passions are involved – the abiding principle is based on fairness for all.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” Rapinoe told American Soccer Now. “It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.
“It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”
Who can look at the video of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald walking away from Chicago police and being shot 16 times and not see injustice? Chicago PD, conceding the incident made a mockery of “reasonable force” guidelines, fired five cops, including one of which emptied his weapon.
Who can look at the video of Walter Scott being shot in the back by a police officer in South Carolina and not see injustice? The officer involved has been indicted and is facing federal civil rights charges.
There are many more such incidents, of course, and a procession of videos over the past couple years – particularly those since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. in August 2014 – continue to shed light on an area once kept dark by “rogue” officers trampling over the rights of others, most of whom were black.
Pictures don’t lie, and the outrage shouldn’t be limited to those being victimized.
That’s why Kaepernick’s quest deserves greater participation. He’s not protesting America. He’s not anti-military. He’s peacefully pleading with America’s justice system to take honest look at itself, acknowledge its flaws, and take corrective action. He’s urging our nation to be better, to get over banish racism and double standards and finally begin living up to its vows. Why would anyone consider this controversial?
Rapinoe gets it, and it seems the president did, too.
“He cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about,” Obama said of Kaepernick on Monday, during a news conference in China. “And, if nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.”
There are instances when law enforcement officers are absolutely justified in using deadly force. Sometimes it’s the only option. Those of us who care about the issue have read and seen enough to know there are good officers, great officers and some who go beyond the call of duty.
There also are, and always have been, a few officers undeserving of authority, just as there are biased and overzealous district attorneys and judges who use their position to maintain oppression of the disadvantaged. The majority of police department investigations undertaken by the Department of Justice find a pattern of misconduct and corruption.
The manifestation is, too often, a senseless death depriving a citizen of due process. Does anybody, man or woman, gay or straight, regardless of ethnic background, really believe that’s OK?