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Kneeling for Justice

By Pamela Wood-Garcia

Pamela Wood-Garcia

With Super Bowl LII just concluding with a Philadelphia Eagles victory over the New England Patriots, one has to wonder what happened to the Black Community and its allies taking a knee for justice? Just the other day, I was on Facebook, and my timeline was flooded with posts about how the Patriots were going to beat the Eagles in the big game. People of color were paying homage to Tom Brady and his athletic ability and his winning record. I was mortified, to say the least. Not that Tom Brady is not worthy of another Super Bowl win, but how the hell did any of my Facebook friends know anything about the Super Bowl? Were they actually watching playoff games? These were the same people who just a few weeks back were posting “Blackout the NFL” videos and hash tagging that they “stood with KAP”. So many people were so passionate when Spike Lee and other celebrities decided to publicly stand with Colin Kaepernick after he was blackballed for taking a knee during the NFL games in which he played. Many of the same people have now abandoned the process of bringing forth change. Kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner or skipping NFL games is not just about boycotting a few football games, it is part of the long process of bringing forth change. When did we, as a people stop trusting the process? The process is all that we have ever had in this country. When did we become so out of touch with our power that we would relinquish it to watch a football game? Did they forget about the vicious killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Eric Garner? Have they really lost sight of the slayings of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and Mario Woods?

 15-year-old Darius Smith of California (second from left), son of Reyshawna Myricks, died at the hands of law enforcement.

If we recap a few of the social injustices of 2017, it would give us plenty of reason to take a knee. Let’s start with January 2017 being the deadliest month for police brutality since 2015. In a report in the Washington Post, it is noted that 250 people were killed by law enforcement in the first month of last year. The rest of the year proved to be equally as disappointing. Betty Shelby was acquitted for the murder of Terence Crutcher. Darius Smith of California, Jordan Edwards of Texas and Jason Negron of Connecticut, all just 15 years old, were all killed at the hands of law enforcement within days of each other. Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of the murder of Philando Castile and our criminal justice system was placed under the leadership of very well known White supremacist, Jeff Sessions. The current president stood in front of a group of police officers and instructed them to use excessive force on “thugs”. There was the demonstration in Charlotteville, which was led like a Klan rally of old and took the life of Heather Heyer, who was peacefully protesting with friends. As if that was not enough, the president stood before another crowd and called NFL players sons of bitches for taking a knee during the national anthem. I think that is enough to justify kneeling for justice but if the events of 2017 are not enough to make you want to take a knee, then maybe the following will be.

We, as Africans in America need to trust our own processes. If we say that we are taking a knee for justice, why did so many of us fall off of the boycott Spike Lee and so many other celebrities started? It is a sad day when we are not connected enough as a people to skip a few football games or take a knee during a song that is about murdering our predecessors to ensure that we are treated fairly and that our sons and daughters can move about the country they live in without law enforcement being a threat to their very lives. We need to quit playing woke on social media and wake up in real life! Things will not change if we don't trust our own processes. Our ancestors trusted the process of making change and they saw the process all the way through.

Sojourner Truth, a Women’s Rights activist and an African Slave abolitionist was one of the very first Black women to take a stand to protect her son by way of legislation and win. Truth, who lived in New York, learned that her 5-year-old son, Peter, had been sold illegally by her former slave owner to a man in Alabama. With the help of white abolitionists, she took the issue to court and in 1828, after a long drawn out legal battle, she got her son back. The process of getting her son back took close to 2 years. Many Black Women in that era would have given up hope before their case reached a high court, but Truth stuck it out and saw victory by way of trusting the process that she started.

Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman to serve in the United States senate. She was also the very first Black person to run for President of the United States after reconstruction. She never made it past the primaries but she did blaze a trail for future generations. People like Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama ran after Chisholm and each made mention of her while campaigning.

Rosa Parks trusted the process of small incremental change based on major sacrifice. She and the entire Black community of Montgomery, Alabama, boycotted the bus system after Rosa was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. This sparked a large scale boycott of the bus system in Montgomery Alabama and marked the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. For 13 months our predecessors walked miles to and from their jobs and anyplace else they needed to go. They did this until the Supreme Court changed the segregation laws of the bus system in Montgomery. They became a cohesive unit and saw the boycott process through. Through this boycott, they fought for themselves, but they also fought for us. Our children need to see us the same way we see our ancestors.

As moms, we are Black History in the making. Changing the perception that society has of Black boys and men, influencing policy, demonstrating the power of the Black woman and our allies, and partnering strategically with groups and individuals who can help further our mission is no easy task. We are women on a mission to make change but there is a process to making that change. On a daily basis, MOBB United leadership puts it all on the line to ensure that the world knows that we are here for our sons. We actually are marching, writing letters and emails, making phone calls, going to funerals, raising funds for families, meeting with legislators, having group chats and national calls, and educating ourselves, and we do it all for the love of our sons. It is not just a good look on social media; it is a daily sacrifice of time and energy. We have to let go of what seems normal and comfortable for what is right. Everybody mentioned in this article chose to do what was right. Kneeling for justice may have been perceived as a good look to some; those who boycotted until their team was in the playoffs. But Colin Kaepernick didn’t take a knee because it was a good look; he did it because it was the right thing to do. He did it to protest the atrocities that our sons face everyday. Taking a knee for Justice needed to be backed by the entire Black community throughout the entire football season for it to be most effective, but some people dropped the ball—they fumbled!

As moms, we cannot drop the ball. We have to give our all to push our mission forward, and each mom’s contribution makes up part of that united “all”. Being on social media with MOBB United is a great look for any mom of a Black son, but it is the work that makes that look so amazing! Please help us to do our work and see our processes through by becoming an official member of MOBB United today. Sign up on our website and join a committee. Become a part of Black History. Help us to help our sons. We are carrying on the legacy of our ancestors by being an unstoppable, unmovable force in the communities that we serve. Our children should look back and see us the way that we see our ancestors. They should see all of us complete our processes.

We take a stand for all moms whose Black sons love the game of football. We understand that most of them cannot simply choose to take a knee against injustice publicly. whether our sons are paid to take the field, do it purely for the love or don't play a sport at all, they ALL deserve to be treated fairly! On the field and off! They should be allowed to express their opinions. PERIOD.

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