We can do hard things. Let’s talk.

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“We earned this right to peaceful protest as Americans!”

Let’s look at a truly obnoxious case of cultural appropriation. But first, a definition. Because we are all about the learning around here.

cultural appropriation (noun):
the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture

Some common examples of cultural appropriation include wearing a Native American headdress as a fashion accessory, Halloween costumes that promote racial stereotypes, or wearing a bindi dot as a decorative item. No, it’s not nothing. Unless you yourself are from one of these ethnic groups don’t even try with the “it’s not a big deal” argument.

So anyway.

For obvious reasons there’s been a surge in the #MeToo movement over the last couple of weeks. Men and women across the country watched Christine Blasey Ford step forward to accuse Judge (now Justice) Kavanaugh then take her seat on an international stage to share her story. Many of them took to social media in solidarity, sharing their own pain using the #MeToo hashtag.

So far so good.

Best I can tell the shit hit the fan on October 4th when some brilliant (yes, you know it’s coming, say it with me) white people suggested we should protest Kavanaugh’s appointment by (here we go, y’all) taking a knee during the National Anthem. Can’t quite determine the idea’s origin, but here are some early tweets:

“The next time the National Anthem is played — at a sporting event, at a political event, etc — WHEREVER — Every woman and girl (and the men who support them) SHOULD TAKE A KNEE….” @1RobKlint 10/4/18

& Saturday & Sunday….women, please take a knee during anthem for sexual assault survivors. It is not an affront to the flag or our troops. We earned this right to peaceful protest as Americans…” @lanerodrigs1979 10/4/18

“Next time the national anthem is played, every woman and girl in this country should take a knee.” @SheilaABaker 10/4/18

And unless you’re living under a rock in the desert trapped in a dome with no human contact whatsoever, you know why this is problem. Colin Kaepernick. Football. National Anthem. Protesting police brutality and systemic racism. #TakeAKnee.

Damn, white folks make me weary. Let’s take a moment to break down how this is THE VERY DEFINITION of cultural appropriation. First, from the Black Lives Matter side of things.

**  In 2016 Colin Kaepernick (not inconsequentially, a black man) began this highly visible movement specifically to protest racial injustice in America.

**  He took the heat for this. Some people liked him; others burned his jersey and boycotted watching the games. He received death threats. Death threats.

**  In March 2017 Kaepernick opted out of his contract and became a free agent. Nobody signed him.

**  In September 2017 the freaking president of the United States recommended fining or firing players who do not stand for the anthem.

**  In November 2017 Kaepernick accused the NFL owners of colluding to keep him out of the league.

**  In September 2018 Kaepernick represents in Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad campaign and people lose their minds. Some sing his praises; others burn their Nikes in protest and post their nonsense on social media.

Now, from the Me Too side.

**  Judge Kavanaugh became the nominee to the Supreme Court. Despite multiple accusations of questionable conduct, disputable statements made under oath, and a marked lack of transparency in work product prior to the committee meetings he remained the nominee.

**  One (then more) women came forward. Time was allotted only for Kavanaugh’s first accuser to testify before the committee. Intense pressure forced an FBI “investigation” that had a scope limited by the White House.

**  Despite all that Kavanaugh’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor for a vote. He was put on the Supreme Court by a vote of 50-48.

**  White Twitter unleashed a campaign to #TakeAKneeForWomen.

Let’s see. Black people began a movement to focus attention on racial injustice in the United States. They fought for it. They lost jobs because of it. They were threatened and shamed and dismissed for it.

White women got pissed about Kavanaugh – rightly so – then waltzed in and staged a movement coup.

No wonder people are furious:

“So I’m supposed to support when you couldn’t for the unjust murder of unarmed black people? You have got to be insane. Thanks for showing privilege isn’t an entirely male phenomena.” @mrspencertaylor 10/7/18

“As a black woman I CANNOT get behind the movement. The audacity of it is such a blatant slap in the face I feel like I’ve been spat upon. In constant awe of the sheer shamelessness is white women. First Trump, now this.” @thatritahaley 10/9/18

“White women kneeling during the anthem to protest “rape culture” is highjacking a movement you took no risks for. You didn’t kneel in solidarity to protest the murder of Black people, don’t co opt & make it about your victimization. That’s white supremacy in the name of feminism.” @TalbertSwan 10/6/18

Damn.


The Small Bites series is a way for us to break down tough conversations into manageable pieces. I hope you come into this space willing to read with an open mind. That being said, I know now what I didn’t know in my twenties and thirties, but I don’t yet know what I don’t yet know. I love hearing your stories and perspectives in the comments. Thank you for being willing to share.

You can find previous posts by going to the “Let’s talk about” search field and selecting small bites.