Posted this in what used to be my tech newsletter, and what has lately been about more...
Yesterday wasn't just any given Sunday, was it?
I would imagine most of the NYC-based readers of this newsletter don't take the position that "these athletes should just stick to sports" nor do they feel that way about Jimmy Kimmel and his recent conversations around healthcare. So, telling you that I support their willingness to share their views and why seems a bit like preaching to the choir.
What I will say is that there's no way either side of this conversation is going to "win" unless both sides start asking each other why they feel that way, and actually listening. No, I don't mean listening to Trump and asking him why he feels the need to call private citizens SOBs. Honestly, he's got the least important opinion in this whole equation--it's just the wasted noise of an old racist without any character or class.
No, I mean that athletes need to understand and listen to people about what the flag and the anthem means to them--and why they feel offended by the protest, as is their right.
And anyone who says anything about these athletes needs to open their ears and listen to their stories. They need to listen to firsthand accounts of what it means to be black in America. Go read a book like The New Jim Crow. Then, feel free to say you disagree with the protest.
But never tell someone they don't have a right to *peacefully* protest--because then you simply don't understand the basis on which this country was even founded.
The Lovett or Leave It podcast recently had Normal Lear on--the creator of All in the Family. He was saying how "in love" his generation (he's 95 now) was with America. We had not only won a World War on two fronts, but we were successful in helping to rebuild wartorn Europe and Japan. We had a lot to be proud of.
What strikes me about these protests is what kids and young people likely think about this country today and whose side they're likely to be more sympathetic to. They see the widening gap between the rich and the poor. They see our inability to deal with drug addiction and gun violence or our problematic education system--all things other countries seem to have a better handle on. They see us mired in a war in Afghanistan that, in two years, will start recruiting kids who weren't even born on 9/11. I have a feeling that the idea that the flag and the anthem is unquestionable in any way isn't something that's going to hit home.
One thing Trump got right in the election is that there are a lot of people who feel like America isn't so great anymore--but what I hope he's wrong about is that the people fixing that aren't turning back the clock for answers. We're not going to regain greatness by waging war or nation building. We've got to do it by coming together to solve tough problems like inequality of all kinds. We've got to get healthier and smarter--and that's going to take creativity and courage to change systems full of friction.
People wanted change last November. They didn't get it. When a politician doesn't listen, that's not change. That's more of the same.
When every single NFL game has players protesting in solidarity--that's different. That's change. That's going to make an impression that people will notice.
If they ask why and actually listen, Trumpism is done.