Following the death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests that followed, we have begun to see a strange new ritual being performed by predominantly white people, ‘taking the knee’ in forgiveness for the oppression against black people.
I’ve yet to figure out what this motion will actually do for the historic oppression of black people, the last time I checked history was fixed and unchangeable. I believe at this point the only things we can change are based at all time points beyond the present.
So where does ‘Take the Knee’ come from exactly?
While ‘Take the knee’ can be traced back to as early as the 1960’s, it has become widely known for the following reason:
On August 14th and 20th, 2016, Colin Kaepernick stayed seated during the national anthem. Nobody noticed. Then, on August 26th, Jennifer Lee Chan of Niners Nation tweeted out a photo of the anthem, entirely unrelated to Kaepernick or his protest.
However, fans noticed him sitting and word spread quickly. Later that night and the 49ers released a statement confirming Kaepernick sat for the anthem. He gave a brief explanation at the time, stating that he sat because of the oppression of people of color and ongoing issues with police brutality.
So I get it, Kaepernick was making a statement, a stand against the oppression and police brutality against ‘people of colour’. But somehow the statement is meaningless coming from millions of police, military, political leaders and every day white people. It feels more like a self indulgent plea for attention, “look at me! I’m so anti-racist that i’m even kneeling for forgiveness”.
But where were you three weeks ago, what good did you do then? What good will you do next week, next month when all this has blown over?
White people living now are not responsible for the crimes of those who lived and died before us, we are responsible for ourselves and our children. We cannot kneel down and magic all the horrors of our history away. We can only learn from it and try to do better. This applies to all of us, regardless of colour or creed.
Just as I found the clapping for the NHS across the UK no more than narcissistic virtue signalling, I find this latest social fad the same, but far worse.
Did no one find the sight of over 40 US Democrats, the very political class that maintains and creates such oppression and divide in society even today, ‘taking the knee’, just like Chauvin did to Floyds neck, for the time it took for Floyd to die a little disturbing?
Some police and community workers in in Cary, North Carolina, on Saturday took things one step further and cleaned the feet of black faith leaders during George Floyd prayer walk:
Let’s be clear, none of this stands against the historical and current oppression against black communities, it stands against nothing. It merely is a signal to others to say ‘Look, i’m not racist’.
Now after saying all of this I am going to defend or at least give a valid reason to why many people, particularly public services and high profile figures are joining in with this. To refuse would instantly open the door for attack, because if you don’t ‘take the knee’, you must be racist. Attacks not from the Black community but from the white community.
I oppose any injustice towards anyone of any colour. We are not all equal, we are all unique, but I do believe in equal opportunity and freedom for everyone. There is still today in the 21st century a huge amount of racist and ignorant attitude, it is less than it was 50 years ago, and it will certainly even less in another 50 years. Social attitudes do not change overnight, whether you like it or not, it won’t happen.
It can take three to four generations to change social mentalities, and that’s an optimistic estimate. But the majority racists which are basically your small town, country folk racists – “I aint racist, my daughters husband is black and he aint so bad” type of racist, these are not the biggest problem in society for minority groups. It’s a few white folk at the top of the social pyramid who are really responsible for this ongoing issue. But I think thats a topic for another day.
Let me know what you think, am I being a little harsh on the whole ‘Taking the Knee’ thing, or do you agree?