This week has been absolutely great in late night comedy. We recommend looking up the clips on Colin Kaepernick from Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah. Their take is hilarious, cathartic, and inspiring.
There is reason to be in an uproar over Trump’s behavior, and plenty of room to find humor in its ridiculousness. This becomes all-consuming when adding the reactions of others in power, and newscasters fumbling over warnings that the clip they are about to show contains our president saying the word “bitch.”
We are worried, however, about what this is turning into. It’s drama. It’s entertainment. It’s something to watch as if it really isn’t actually happening. The conversation is headed towards the abstract meaning of a flag and the “right and wrong” ways to protest. This is absolutely beneficial and quite possibly intentional to those in power.
It is derailment.
The protest meant to draw attention (as is the very nature of any protest) to real issues facing our country is instead drawing attention to an object. Ignoring the fact that the rules for “disrespecting” the flag include many “patriotic” activities, like using the flag on a paper plate for the Fourth of July deep fried triple bacon burgers, and on a campaign poster for “an All-American candidate.” Ignoring the fact that Colin Kaepernick spoke with veterans and they supported the fact that they fought for his right to protest and agreed kneeling (rather than sitting for instance) was respectful. Ignoring all the reasons to be angry at the negative responses towards Kaepernick and the other kneelers. One thing is clear: we shouldn’t be talking about the celebrities protesting, or if their way is “appropriate.” We need to talk about what was being protested. We need to talk about racial injustice, and the system keeping it in place. We need to talk about police brutality, income inequality, and how the phrase “black lives matter” is absolutely not offensive.
Everyone, with good and bad intentions, is blowing up this issue to the point of it being a melodrama. It’s turning the issue into the Trump outrage of the week to gossip about. Let’s control the narrative more. Let’s take advantage of everyone talking about Kaepernick again. Let’s remind everyone of the real issue. Let’s slam knowledge into family members who casually bring up the topic without understanding the full set of issues. Let’s make sure statistics are found by those online just for a laugh.
If we can’t always control what topics inflate in the news, we can at least ride the wave and raise up what issues we can. Everyone trying to derail the issues by making this about how the protest method is incorrect is going to now involuntarily help us. They only want this topic in the media if it becomes a joke. Let’s make those who want to keep the status quo regret they ever inflated the topic, because we are going to make it work for us now.