For those of you who missed it, St. Louis Rams‘ players Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, and Stedman Bailey came out of the tunnel yesterday with their hands raised. The gesture paid respect to Mike Brown who was fatally shot by a police officer in August. All the people who are rioting in nearby Ferguson should take note. That’s how you protest!
This piece isn’t about debating our legal system. Instead it is about our rights as Americans. Whether white America likes to hear it or not, African-American people are still treated differently in this country. They have been used, abused and disrespected for centuries. They have the right to be filled with anger, frustration, and even rage.
Where I draw the line is looting and rioting. Some people are under the impression that they must show their frustration and anger by physically battling back against those who have wronged them. That is completely missing the point.
Just think about it. If you belive that Brown was profiled and predetermined to be a threat by the white police officer, does rioting really do anything in changing those predetermined misconceptions?
No, in fact it negatively reinforces the thought that all black people are threats.
Somewhere along the way our society traded in Dr. Martin Luther King‘s words, for violence and chaos. In turn we have regressed as a nation. Think of all the things King accomplished with his non-violent protests. He has made it possible for many African-American’s to be alive today.
It was all in the power of his words. He knew how to create an uprising with his passion and delivery. Sure he was filled with rage and sadness for what was happening to the African-American community, but he channeled it in a positive way. His passion and drive to push toward a better tomorrow got him threatened, arrested, and ultimately assassinated.
The Rams players took a page from Dr. King and made more of a statement to me than any rioting or looting ever could. There is one quote that I am drawn back to everytime I hear anything about Fergueson.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
Rioting and violence will only breed more of the same behaviors. There needs to be a dynamic change.
As a white male I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to black. However, that doesn’t make me naive to think that black people are treated equally in this country. You can choose to disregard my opinion because of the color of my skin, but that only speaks to the point that I just made. Being closed-minded shuts out a lot of bad thoughts, but it also never allows any good thoughts to float in.
Thank you, to the Rams’ players for a refreshing alternative to what is happening in Ferguson. They threw no punches and fired no shots, but their “Hands Up” pose said it all.
Photo by Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports
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