Monday, October 2, 2017

Who Defines Me?

"Are you okay?"

I hear it every few days or so, when I wobble or lean or grab a chair back to steady myself as I stand up.  I'm much stronger than I used to be, but my actions often belie my inner sense of self.  I know that merely getting up from a chair onto two feet evenly supporting my weight is a major accomplishment; I congratulate myself (quite often) on achieving the upright position. I know that it's impressive. 

The naive observer does not share my confidence.  Without knowing my story, the kind woman at the table next to mine sees a grey haired, impaired, elder.... and she offers a smile and some help if I need it.  She sees me as broken.  I see myself as strong - strong enough to walk across a parking lot, strong enough to lift flats of water into and out of the Costco cart, strong enough to wander through the Lincoln Park Zoo with FlapJilly.  She watches me lurch across the restaurant to the cashier and doesn't know that once the synovial fluid starts moving I'll be striding out to my car with more fluidity than I had last week.  She sees the outside and constructs her own narrative.

Granted, observing my can be open to interpretation.  It's not great.  It's not perfect.  It's not what I want it to be.  But it is what it is.  I'm proud of the effort it took to get here, proud of the effort it took to develop a plan and stick to it.  The results will take time, but if I persist I believe that I will achieve success.  Maybe the success won't look beautiful to anyone else, but I will know that I've done what I can. 

I wonder if Colin Kaepernick feels the same way? 

Without knowing his story, without the experience of being stopped and frisked for no reason other than the color of my skin, without listening to the pain and the fear, without considering the emotional and intellectual effort it took to take a knee, the haters are hating.  Just by looking, they deduce intent.  They define what they are seeing from the outside, without considering what it took to get there.

Eric Reid, a 49'ers teammate, talked with Kaepernick.  They spoke to Nate Boyer, former Green Beret and NFL player.  They talked and they thought and they planned a statement, a respectful statement, a statement that was a respectful gesture....... (their) posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.

That's what it means. 

Just as my sister couldn't tell me not to wear my favorite flannel shirt because the vertical blue stripes on the white background looked like concentration camp garb and how could I possibly leave the house in an outfit that supported the Nazi's extermination of our family, outsiders cannot redefine the players' actions because it looks like disrespect. 

Your vantage point does not define me.


  1. I will always support people's right to protest. That is a right under the Constitution. I'm angry people have tried to say people who kneel to protest police brutality are somehow disrespecting the flag. It has nothing to do with that. I guess some feel they have the right to protest, but the rest of us, have to listen to them. After all, they are the true patriots. It also angers me that they get to define patriotism. I think kneeling is patriotic. They are being respectful and protesting at the same time.

    I'll get off my soapbox. I cried over the weekend due to 45* meanness. I told hubby I would take Bush or Romney over this cruel man any day. I thought both men were out of touch and Bush wasn't bright, but I NEVER thought of them as cruel.

    I'm going back to bed. Today is just too much to bear.

    Sending love and hugs.

    Megan xxx

  2. Kaepernick is young and what he said to begin, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." colored the rest.

    In other quotes, he has said he was not picked on but saw that other were and wanted to use his platform but then he wore those socks with cops as pigs. His girlfriend called the owner of the Ravens like a slave master. I think it's gotten out of hand with not a real discussion because people fear being thought the bad guy.

    We need to know if the police are being racist OR are dealing with a group who are more apt to be violent. We, who are not directly impacted by it, need to know because Kaepernick, in that quote, called us oppressors for what is happening.

    When I read about something like Ferguson, I think but wait the young man had been caught on cameras being violent in a convenience store, had stolen something, then how do we know if he was acting violently toward the police officer by reaching for his gun? How do the rest of us decide? If it was mandatory that police wear cameras; and if they didn't, they get fired, it'd be a good start.

    As for the team owners being slave masters-- I think that's youth talking with emotion coloring the words. Slave masters didn't pay their slaves huge salaries-- and the slaves could not quit. Everybody who works for an employer today has standards they must abide by. Who doesn't know that? Evidently Kaepernick’s girlfriend and it is said it cost him the job with the Raiders.

    I can see where we might well have racist cops. I can see where some cops are scared knowing the domestic dispute they've been called to settle may be an ambush.

    I don't have sympathy for the players who are kneeling because they are using their job as a political tool-- maybe because they hate Trump and have been encouraged to do it by a media who also hates him. I do have sympathy for blacks being stopped for nothing more than being black... I am not sure Kaepernick ever had that experience. It's too bad he doesn't go on some of the shows that don't hate Trump and tell his story for why he got to this point. He won't find that on MSNBC but might with some of the pundits on NPR or CNN. If these players want to make a difference, they need to explain what happened to them. If their story is only what they read, they are in the same place most of us are-- don't know who to believe. Many end up like me feeling bad for both sides in a very violent time where police officers are killed just for wearing blue. I keep wondering how we got here and please don’t say it’s Trump. He hasn’t been in office long enough. This has been coming on. He might not be helping with some of his foolish tweets, but he did not get us here. What did?

    I am only replying to what you wrote before Las Vegas. There is no explaining that. I've had a worrisome week since my son has to be in Barcelona for business and that's scary for a mother.

  3. Correcting what I wrote in terms of his quotes as to whether he’s experienced prejudice-- it goes two ways.

    “This stand wasn't because I feel like I'm being put down in any kind of way. This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice: people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change. So I'm in the position where I can do that, and I'm going to do that for people that can't.”

    “I've had times where one of my roommates was moving out of the house in college, and because we were the only black people in that neighborhood, the cops got called, and we had guns drawn on us. Came in the house, without knocking, guns drawn on my teammates and roommates. So I have experienced this."
    Of course, in the latter, he's assuming the same thing would not have happened if it had been a bunch of white guys.

  4. Rain, I think you are wrong. If Henry Louis Gates Jr. had been white, do you think he would have been swarmed by police holding guns as he attempted to open his front door? Do white parents have to have the talk with their young sons about how to survive an encounter with the police at a traffic stop? No. Yes, you are right, we've been a racist country for 200 or so years. We were getting better about it, or at least not so openly racist, but 45 has made it socially acceptable again with his racist tweets.

  5. Wow, i had to warn my young son about how to behave if he got stopped. Not saying it isn't worse for minorities but just young males are suspect by the police (going by what my son has experienced). I don't know if we are a racist nation. I've had black friends, black neighbors, have nieces who are half Native American and I see all of them the same to me-- how people behave. Is that what others have done? I am sure not-- probably on both sides. And 45 has not made it socially acceptable by anybody I know-- left or right.


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