A feminist scholar friend called recently and commented that if she were a Women’s National Basketball Association player and kneeled for breast cancer awareness, it would be much ado about something, and there would be no divisive public outrage.
Therein is the rub. Colin Kaepernick took a knee for Black Lives Matter, but he was quasi-ignorant that in American cultural history, Black Lives Have Never Mattered.
Mark Twain made this point clearly in “Huckleberry Finn.” After a riverboat accident, his Aunt Sally yelled to Huck, “Good gracious! Anybody hurt?”
Huck replies, “No’m. Killed a [n-word].”
Aunt Sally replied, “Well, it’s lucky because sometimes people do get hurt.”
Twain’s observation was confirmed in the 1948 presidential document “To Secure These Rights,” in which J. Edgar Hoover was cited regarding southern police killings of black citizens: “These police are trigger happy.” Mr. Hoover, the most noted head of the FBI, came to understand an oft-repeated southern colloquialism that “[N-Word] life is cheap.”
When I attended elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky, all children sang the anthem, including the infamous third stanza: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”
We all need to get real.
Malik Simba, Fresno