Taking a stand on racism.

Colin Kaepernick was a mixed-race newborn when he was adopted transracially in Wisconsin close to three decades ago. He has been candid concerning his experiences growing up different, as a perceived-as black young man. Recently he was in the news for refusing to stand up for the national anthem during a football game [link]. There’s a lot to unpack in terms of the NFL and its own racism; to point out is the support of his team, the 49ers. I’m curious to see the reaction of adoptees, and would like to ask here: Where do you stand on Colin’s action?

8 thoughts on “Taking a stand on racism.

  1. Thanks for posting this, Daniel. I absolutely support Colin. I don’t know how much adoption and AdoptionLand politics plays into this–it’s more of an addenda to the core reason. My support is much broader.

    I wrote the following on someone’s personal FB page in a discussion, and I’m posting it here, but adding a couple more thoughts.

    Pledging allegiance to a flag or country is bowing down to the state. You admit that the government owns you body (and presumably mind). I haven’t stood up for the US flag or pledge my allegiance to the illegitimate American state since 1967 and I’m not about to start it now. I started ignoring it when my husband was playing football for the Marines and we were expected to kowtow at football games. No way. The US government is responsible for the deaths of millions of people since the end of WW2–for the most part to make the rich richer and feed special interests. The US government is owned by Big Everything and globalists. They won’t own me. Having actually lived under Communism, I’m not about to reflect that statist system, or any statist system here or anywhere

    Moreover, I have never understood why the pledge and national anthem is played at sporting and other public events. That ;makes no sense. I can well imagine reaction have to that kinds of ritual taking place in North Korea or a tinpot dictatorship that the US props up.

    For what it’s worth, when I lived in Russia I’d take the Repin Express between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. Upon departure it would blare out The Internationale. I do admit, it made me feel rather revolutionary in a shallow sort of way, so I wonder if the national anthem makes people feel “patriotic” or good about a country going down the tubes. Around 1994, as I remember, the Internationale was replaced by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, a very eccentric choice, but Pink Floyd was immensely popular in Russia and in the big hotels people would slow dance to their music after dinner.. Whatever, I see no benefit to flag waving at public events. Couldn’t the national anthem be replaced by David’ Bowie’s Let’s Dance or something by DePeche Mode? Princess Di is Wearing a New Dress?

  2. Thanks for weighing in Marley. I’m with you on all of the points you make, and can only compare the indoctrination of the anthem played at sports events here to actual Lebanese TV programs aimed at children with the goal of teaching them the “national anthem” when just a short time before Lebanon was, in fact, Syria. “We’re all for the patria” goes that anthem, and nothing could be further from the truth in reality and on the ground.

    When I lived in France I had a comparative lesson in national anthem violence, and the French “filling the furrows with foreign blood” was slightly ahead on this scale compared to simple “bombs bursting in air”. As we come to the dismal end of the failed experiment known as nation-states, one can only hope that this will mean the end of equivalent anthems—especially those, like that of the US, set to the tune of British drinking songs.

    I was exploring recently getting my teaching certification here in order to teach high school. Part of what is required is a sworn statement of allegiance to “uphold the constitution of the United States as well as that of the state of New Jersey”. (On a lighter note, everyone I mention this to says without fail: “New Jersey has a constitution?”) It would seem that such forced allegiance is better suited to fascistic states, or the worst of despotic nations. As someone stated on Twitter, instead of berating Colin for his stance, it might be worth examining the reasons why anyone might feel the need to do such a thing, and then start the heavy work required to address such a sense of inequality.

    • Glad to see I’m not alone. I fail to see how being reared by white parents translates into a privilege to not get beat up or shot by the cops. Of course, the whole cop situation,while it focuses on black folks especially ,is a much broader problem that transcends race. Let’s just say the cops are experimenting on blacks until they have their game down good. Then the rest of come into their sites. We need to cut them of at the pass not only for our POC friends, but for the rest of us who are slipping into their sites.

      On a side note,when I was hired at Ohio State I had to pledge my allegiance to the Ohio Constitution and to promise to fight piracy on the Great Lakes (if necessary.) How I was supposed to do that was never explained.

  3. As a transracial adoptee, I support him 100% and it really infuriates me now even though it should have nothing to do with adoption, people are attempting to use it to resurrect the “grateful adoptee” demands. Like he isnt entitled to be a Black man because he was raised by whites. As if his upbringing and success have inured him to racism and are the equivalent of white privilege.

    • Thanks for the comment! This brings up the criticisms being lobbied his way that his “privilege” somehow disqualifies him from speaking out. By “privilege” I can’t help but hear “by the fact that you were raised by white people instead of your parents”. To wait for now are the “gone bad” and “reverting to his kind” remarks….

  4. I’m not a fan of the NFL so I first heard of Colin because of the uproar by first mothers judging and scolding him, so I first learned he was adopted and famous.

    Now, with this, I’m proud of him for taking a stance for what he believes in and trying to do something, at least within himself, for a better society.

    People like Trump, his supporters, and WAPs who “silently” think he’s “entertaining” and is just “exercising his 1st amendment rights” are the people who make me ashamed of the US. There is so much that this country and people in this country should be ashamed of. Standing up/sitting down for life, dignity, and human rights for all humans isn’t something to be ashamed of.

    I’m now much more a fan of CK than I ever was, and may pay a bit more attention to him now. After all, he seems like a positive role model and someone I can identify with him (about some things besides US football).

  5. Hi All, It’s been a crazy few years, so pardon my absence. With regard to this question, it’s a fascinating topic. And I think we have to come face-to-face with this in order to fully appreciate all the thoughts that go into our head in making whatever decision we make.

    A few years ago, I belonged to a group that hosted American Indian musicians for the music festival Crossroads at the Council Tree. They came from all over the continental U.S., and played a wide-variety of genres: classical guitar, folk, rock, rap, traditional, you name it, we listened to them on stage. I was scheduled to pick up a woman who was flying into Denver International Airport to perform the following day. She was an American Indian activist/folk musician. When I met her at baggage claim ‘activist’ as a label became clear. She wore an army jacket, and the duffle bag she slung over her shoulder was traditional army green; the guitar case was black. Her face was framed by curly black hair that she pulled into a rough pony-tail, revealing a soft, angular face punctuated by dark, shining eyes. Her smile was bright and wide and her interests pointed: raising awareness of American Indian issues through her music. As we drove I-25 I asked her about her activism, specifically how she carried it out outside of her performances. She told me that when her son was in grade school, she specifically told him not to stand up for the flag, or sing the National Anthem. I cringed. The towns I’d been raised in would have seen this not only as unpatriotic, but a spit on America herself. People who did stuff like that would have been dragged outside and beat up. American Indians wouldn’t have been excluded; colonizing practices were seen as promoting adherence to American ideals. There was no room for protest. Her son did it, and took a lot of abuse from it, including his teachers who informed her that she was teaching her son the wrong things.

    “What did you tell them?” I asked.
    “I told them, ‘Do you know how many American Indians died in the name of that flag? How many of us were slaughtered, in wars, in massacres, where we had no chance? How many women and children were killed, their bodies mutilated under that flag? I served in the military; I fought for this country. But I will not fight for the flag under which so many of us were actively killed. And neither will my son.”

    To say I was impressed is a severe understatement. I was so impressed with not only her symbolic statement, but her ability to make that statement so clearly, and with such force! And I asked myself, could I have the strength, the fortitude, to make such a statement as this? To stare down the ugly stares I’d received just by existing in order to make a statement. To know, maybe even to hope, that someone take me on, so I could prove a point? No. I couldn’t. I don’t know if I can now. Because I don’t belong to that world, so wholly embodied in the values and the stories and the history as to be unquestioned in my being there. But that doesn’t mean that I belong any easier to the world in which I was raised, the world where approval of the killing of anyone who gets in your way, or questions your rightful ownership of people, of places, of history, is equally unquestioned.

    So I protest. I talk, I write, I present, I convey in every possible moment, and to every possible group about the history of American Indians as the colonized. I argue, I listen to ugly words and sneers and anger at the things that I’ve spoken. And that I can take. But I don’t protest by sitting down during the National Anthem. I don’t have, within me, that unquestioned right to do so. I stand, but I don’t place my hand on my heart and I don’t sing the words, and I don’t look around to see if anyone notices. I’m strong. But I’m not that strong; I don’t have the strength of millions behind me to be that strong.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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