This whole #TakeAKnee thing reminds me a lot of my last relationship. While no one could match me in the “being a fun and entertaining boyfriend” category, I lacked the foresight needed to create a stable home in other, more important, areas. I was really good at picking random places to eat, finding neat events for us to experience, and having two hour conversations on the cultural impact of Drake. Unfortunately, I sucked at the non-fun things like making sure my half of the rent was in on time, not buying sneakers when I had issues with paying the aforementioned rent, and washing the dishes. Seriously, I hated washing dishes. I mean, it’s not like I love washing dishes now, it’s just that my perspective on the importance of dishwashing has changed tremendously.
I knew that a clean kitchen was a sticking point for my ex but, for whatever reason, that knowledge didn’t compel me to act. When my ex and I lived together, I would happily wash the dishes when she asked me to but outside of that, I wasn’t touching them. In my mind, the fact that I washed the dishes when she asked was the sign of a caring and compassionate person. Only a monster would ignore a direct plea, especially knowing how much it meant to their significant other.
But even though I washed the dishes, she would still be mad at me. I legit didn’t understand why so one day, I made the effort to find out. She turned to me, with the fury of a thousand suns and said, “I don’t want you to wash the dishes because I asked, KJ. I want you to wash the dishes because you know they need to be done. Not even because you know I like a clean kitchen. Do it because there are dishes in the sink and they need to be washed!”
This baffled me. First of all — as I’ve made perfectly clear — I hate washing dishes. So why on Earth would I just wash them? Second, I agreed that the dishes needed to be washed but I didn’t get why they needed to be washed when she thought they needed to be washed. Why couldn’t I just wash them tomorrow or the next day? What difference did it make so long as they were cleaned? You probably wouldn’t be shocked to learn that my rebuttals, while done with genuine inquisitiveness, were met with the utmost disdain. We had mind numbing conversations like this, about a myriad of topics, all the time. It’s a wonder she didn’t dump me earlier.
That’s exactly what this #TakeAKnee movement feels like to me. This past week, many teams went out of their way to show “unity” and “solidarity.” Some teams chose to take a knee (a la Colin Kaepernick) en masse, while some teams let their players choose what was best for them. Some teams stood on the field and locked arms and some teams didn’t even leave the locker room. Regardless of what action they took, the players, coaches, and even some team owners (I’m looking at you Jerry Jones) decided to hashtag take-a-knee against the tyranny of Donald Trump’s Alabama speech. A speech in which he played to the emotions of the crowd, saying that NFL team owners should fire the “sons of bitches” that dare disrespect the American flag/military/apple pie.
I want to make sure my words are not minced: this “protest” was trash. This was not about staying true to the purpose of Colin Kaepernick’s original, peaceful protest of the National Anthem. What we witnessed was a bunch of old, rich, white guys telling another old, rich, white guy that they would not be dictated to. This is was a classic, “you’re not the boss of me” stunt that your five-year-old nephew would pull when you try to get him to eat vegetables against his will. This was washing dishes only when your girlfriend told you that you should wash the dishes (and not because you saw that the dishes needed to be washed).
That’s why many people, myself included, were not moved by this showing of quasi-solidarity. It made a mockery of everything Colin was trying to accomplish and everyone who decided to boycott the NFL, in support of Colin’s efforts. The NFL owners have officially jumped the protest shark, co-opting Colin’s actions to fulfill their own selfish needs. For most Americans, #TakeAKnee has now been weaponized as a tool to protest our petulant President instead of a reason to look inward at how we treat the least of us. Not one NFL owner spoke about police brutality or racial disparity. And you know why they didn’t? Because their actions had nothing to do with using their power or influence to make America a more peaceful place for everyone. It had everything to do with letting Donald Trump know that, President or not, they would not be his bitch.
It’ll be interesting to see if Colin Kaepernick will be welcomed on an NFL roster anytime soon. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on the under. Because while kneeling is now acceptable, speaking out against police brutality and the mistreatment of minorities in America is still prohibited. Much like my ex-girlfriend felt about the dishes, I don’t want the NFL owners to kneel because of peer pressure, I want them to kneel because they see that there is still work to be done.
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