Non-offensive protesting?

William T

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Maybe it’s me and I just don’t get it, but when did protesting have to be politically correct as to not offend anyone? It has been my understanding that protesting is a way to bring attention to or voice opposition against something you feel is wrong and needs to be corrected. I guess it is a way to vent and perhaps bring light to social issues affecting our society as a whole. It is unrealistic to believe that everyone will agree on any issue that is being protested—but it is within our rights as citizens to be able to exercise our right of freedom of speech as long as we are peaceful and don’t pose a physical threat to the person or party we are speaking out against.

No one should be threatened with bodily harm or fear for their lives for disagreeing on the stance another party takes. The freedom to speak out against what you feel are wrongs or injustices should be welcomed if this country is to live up to or to be the great country we aspire to be. Being apathetic and acquiescent is not going to move this country forward, correcting the ills that divide us as citizens.

However there are some citizens who don’t take too lightly to people (especially people of color) speaking out, demanding changes in the system to eradicate flaws that exist perpetuating discrimination and inequality. I am speaking of some Whites so inundated with privileges and entitlements that they are literally oblivious (if not just plain apathetic) to the convoluted reality African Americans and other people of color face daily.

Too many hurting Americans find it appalling when they observe people on TV or other media expressing how they find it disrespectful that some groups have the nerve to protest in this great country. An often-overused phrase is that ‘if people are not happy here in this country, they should leave.’

Their reasoning is: how could someone question the credibility of such a great country with so much opportunity and promise for all its citizens? It sounds good in words, if only it were truly practiced.

The sad part is that many of the people expressing their disdain for protesters, especially protesters of color, truly believe that the protesters’ purpose for protesting is invalidated, unsubstantiated and frivolous. Often they will take it a step further. They tell you when, where, and how they feel it is appropriate to protest.

For example, many of those vilifying and demonizing Colin Kaepernick feel that he should not have used his status as a high profile athlete during a game to protest—or they feel he is disrespecting the American flag and all the vets that died and fought for this country. Most African Americans feel that Kaepernick is not disrespecting the flag or veterans, but bringing light to police brutality and the unfair treatment of people of color in this country. Whether you like it or not, it is a real issue that needs to be addressed and corrected.

Why do you find so many people so upset with recent protests, especially surrounding Black Lives Matter? These protests don’t encourage participants to break the law, berate others with obscenities, threaten others with violence or encourage hate for this country. Many of these protests are merely addressing pressing issues affecting people that we can no longer ignore—that need to be changed.

When is the correct or proper time to bring attention to these piercing thorns affecting so many in the African American community? Are we supposed to assume detrimental issues affecting African Americans are not worthy of being addressed or recognized because Black lives don’t matter? When are the concerns of African American going to matter? Time after time, many of those bringing our concerns to the public have been literally ignored by elected officials or crucified by the media.

Many times you will find a handful of bought-and-prompted Africans Americans speaking out against the veracity of protests concerning problems facing the Black community. They claim the problems are not as bad as we are made to believe. These are often planted diversions by the opposition, used to defuse or trivialize the concerns of the protest.

When will African Americans learn that those seeking to oppress us are masters of keeping us divided? One of their most successful tactics is picking a handful of Blacks and making them feel they have ‘arrived.’ Blacks looking down on Blacks with less should not be an option. It is detrimental to our well being.

Our president has voiced aggression at the owners of the NFL for not outright firing million dollar athletes whom he referred to as “sons of bi__hes” for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem. He feels these players are not respecting the American flag and this country.

Isn’t the president supposed to defend and honor the rights of citizens, as described by the Constitution? Peaceful protest should be warranted, not discouraged.

When did peaceful protesting become a problem? It seems the practice of protesting in itself is being questioned if you don’t like the reason for the protest. Telling someone when, where, and how to protest to alleviate ruffling feathers seems counter effective to the objective of protesting. (By all means, don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable or feel offended, especially the group you may be protesting.) Let’s not let those opposing the reason for our protests deter our desire for fixing the flaws apparent in our country.

A personal thanks goes out to the veterans and those in the armed forces for their sacrifices to provide us with the freedom to disagree peacefully as American citizens.