Ok, let’s get the obligatory comments from this weekend out of the way:
• Army veteran and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva is a stand-up dude who has nothing to apologize for.
• If the rest of the Steelers would have come out for the anthem, the refs may have called holding on Jordan Howard’s winning touchdown run in overtime. If the Seahawks at least would have come out, they may not be 1-2 #karma.
• The president shouldn’t be calling people SOBs.
• Racial injustice is real.
• Most of Sunday’s protests were against the president and not about injustice.
• First Amendment rights do not always extend into the workplace.
• An awful lot of people who say, “Kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the military,” never spent a day in the military.
• Some people will complain about anything.
So where do we go from here because the status quo isn’t working?
It’s not working for me, football, us or the U.S., and it hasn’t worked for a long time — literally centuries, for some.
Others have been struggling for decades, and now our youngest (including my mixed Muslim-American children) are getting their indoctrination into race.
Now, status quo dictates middle-aged white dudes cannot address race because we’re white and can’t empathize. Or, as Sidney Deane explained to Billy Hoyle in “White Men Can’t Jump,” white people can only listen to Jimi Hendrix. They can’t hear him.
But what’s the difference?
Well, when a black friend tells me getting pulled over by a cop in Boston was scarier than serving in Iraq, I need to believe him and take a second to realize how horrible that reality must be as opposed to the status quo of passing it off as hyperbole.
When my friend informs me that being white does come with privileges and that I benefit from institutional racism, I need to take a breath, think about what he’s saying, and realize he’s not saying I didn’t earn my success or that I, Chad Jones, am racist.
Conversely, hearing (and empathy) goes both ways. The concept of “white privilege” is difficult and sometimes laughable, especially for dudes from the trailer who grew up on government cheese.
So when behavior validates it, and a person says, “I’m not racist,” believe them. Status quo responses like, “Yes you are” or “Everyone’s racist” or “You just don’t know you’re racist” do not help.
Of course, hearing and taking people at their word is neither easy nor enough. Based off our past, it also may be neither warranted nor realistic, but what’s our options? This weekend? This past month? These past few years?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but President Trump didn’t start this. It wasn’t Hillary Clinton or President Obama either. It wasn’t Osama Bin Laden or Facebook or anything else.
It was us.
Cynicism and hate have become our default mode. It’s not correcting itself and has pushed us into corners where we’re forgetting about common sense or right and wrong. Instead, we’re just going with our side.
Take two examples from this weekend.
1. You don’t need a DINFOS certificate to know the picture showing NASCAR as “what right looks like” for the national anthem in contrast to what the NFL did was absolute and deliberate race baiting.
Admitting that is not saying NASCAR fans are racist or all fit into a certain demographic because most are not and do not. It’s also not saying the NFL protests are right or wrong. It’s just stating a fact.
Let me put that in perspective. The most powerful, valuable, influential team in all of sports — the one that literally has the star on its helmet — took a knee in solidarity against the president, for the players and injustice.
But within 30 seconds, both sides were popping off online.
One group complained the Cowboys were disrespecting the anthem and flag even though neither were on the field. The other side complained the protest wasn’t about the right thing.
How can we win with this mentality? With the status quo?
The answer is we can’t. Not if we don’t start hearing each other. Not if we don’t start taking each other at our word.
And not if we do not dump the cynicism and hate.
If you have comments on this or anything to do with sports, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @CTJibber.