How can we fix the problems creating the NFL Anthem protests? Simple: resolve the problems for which the protests occur. According to Colin Kaepernick, his reason for protesting during the National Anthem was, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Brandon Marshall — Denver Broncos wide receiver — lost a Denver area personal endorsement deal today. The sponsor who terminated Marshall’s spokesman status with their company — “Air Academy Federal Credit Union” — stated they did so because of his National Anthem “kneeling protest.” Marshall said afterward he has no problem with the flag, the Anthem, or the military. He said he is protesting because of “social injustice.” That covers a broad array of possible issues that I cannot get my arms around. I do not know what they consist of. But there are some very obvious specific issues mentioned by Colin Kaepernick. Maybe those encompass “social injustice.” Let’s look at those that I can identify, knowing there are others.
If we are going to solve the issues at hand, (or at least do our absolute best to do so) we need to make some basic assumptions:
- Kaepernick’s and Marshall’s statements are the fundamental protest cause;
- If we attack oppression of people of color in America, protest would stop;
- ALL Americans need to engage in the processes necessary to achieve this – ALL Americans.
Let’s look at some of the problems:
- Law Enforcement inequalities. Let’s face it: not every white cop is a bad cop. But some are. Not every shooting of a minority by a white cop is unjustified. But some are. And none of those are acceptable, yet they happen.
- The Criminal Justice system is blatantly tilted away from Black America. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had more Criminal justice experience through those close to me than I care to have had, and African Americans and other minorities are at a huge disadvantage: cost of criminal defense is where it starts. Poor are relegated to appointed representation that means poor capabilities in discovery, depositions, and in the courtroom. Let’s fix it.
- Education inequality. This is not just a “black” thing. Many poor and middle class Americans are stuck in school districts where public education for a multitude of reasons is less than acceptable. Many middle class families simply move to better neighborhoods where better schools are located. That’s seldom a possibility for minorities.
- Single-parent families. I’m not drawing a stereotype here. Factually, more Black families have just one parent living at home. That 24/7 family environment so many White families take for granted is missing. With that comes all of the issues that plague that community: lack of discipline, drugs, gangs, street violence, and no sense of familial community that where it exists creates personal identity and growth foundations for young men and women.
- Income inequality. On the most part, all of the above contribute heavily to minorities struggling to get good paying jobs. Which comes first: the chicken or the egg? That’s very applicable to this conversation. A poor home life, lack of self-discipline from no teaching, and a poor education all contribute to that lack of income. Seldom mentioned is the lack of or poor transportation. How can someone get and keep a good job without a realistic transportation source?
- Work related inequality. Often minorities are over-looked for particular jobs and/or promotions simply because they are minority workers. In today’s world, business success is not always about being better or smarter, it’s about who you know and being in the right place at the right time. It’s harder for minority workers to be in that spot because of simply being a minority.
This really just barely scratches the surface of the issues faced by minority Americans today that others only hear about. Certainly there are more. Also, we know that even though America is far down the road toward racial equality from where we began, there obviously are many more miles to travel. I am willing to do my part to push hard to get down the road toward that end. I don’t know it all — I can’t do it all. “We the People” must do it together.
First a disclaimer: understand my opinion is just that. My purpose is to stop throwing rocks and attempt to lay a foundation in part, knowing others will disagree and suggest other methods. That is fine. I want to get a positive conversation going. I have not been hearing that.
- To effect changes in policing is a huge but necessary task. It will require many people at many levels of government to get involved — from the Justice Department, 50 states’ state police forces, local and regional law enforcement, and district, state, and federal courts. That is a huge task. But it must begin and must begin somewhere. How do we start that process? First, since the NFL players stepped out first on this process, let’s ask them to petition their Union (NFLPA) to with the NFL reach out to the Justice Department to craft and implement a national plan to tackle law enforcement issues. A model of this process should be aggressively pursued, implemented nationally, and rolled out to state and local agencies. (That includes the FBI) I suggest that this plan include very detailed one-on-one training with every law enforcement agent that interfaces with the public in any way. It should include psychological training and analysis. This portion of this plan is critical and will necessarily be VERY costly. How to finance it? See funding plan below.
- Community ownership of problems and solutions must be owned by everyone in each community affected. That means not only the disadvantaged or not only law enforcement or other government agencies or employees. EVERYONE in each community must join in. Why? Because everyone in each community is part of the problem and therefore must be part of any solution. Though not a sociologist, from 64 years of living in America, I know racism, nepotism, elitism, and social inequality are present in every town and city, and are living in every human being to some degree. (Yes, there’s racism in all of us — at least a seed) No matter how desperately we want reconciliation and equality, it will never succeed without first acceptance of what is in us all with a sincere desire to rid ourselves and each other of the bad, preserving the good, then beginning to work together to implement what is universally best for all.
- Instead of trying to change American history, we need to learn more about American history. How can we expect our children and their children to know exactly what the costs are of racism and social injustice and hatred and bigotry if they do not see and understand its past in America, how it devastated families and communities, and how Americans together changed today’s history by building on yesterday’s history — not by trying to wipe it out? The evils in the past are just that: evils in the past. To have any chance to get through this, we must do so together, building on America’s past — throwing out the bad and using the good moving forward.
- We must recognize diversity has been and always be a part of who we are as Americans. The United States has forever been known as the “Melting Pot” of the World, accepting and integrating people of all origins, races, ethnicities, religions and creeds into America. Being different must cease being viewed as “better” or “worse.” We must recognize and applaud our differences instead of looking down or up to others. The United States needs to really be “One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for All.”
Certainly there are other things to be added to this list. But certainly we can agree that to get through this, we need to tackle with honesty and sincerity numbers 1 – 4 above.
How to Fund this “Plan”
- Let’s let the NFL take the lead on this: the NFL itself, teams, players, and fans. How?
- The NFL gets $1 Billion a year from the networks for NFL game broadcast rights, plus $1.5 Billion a year from DirecTV for their Sunday NFL Ticket package. The NFL commits 1% of television revenue to this project. That’s $25 million per year.
- NFL players get $167 million per team per year in pay: that’s $196,934 average per player per game. NFL players commit .25% of their pay to this project. That’s $417,000 per team or $13.3 million per year.
- NFL teams get an average of $150 million per year in local revenue. Each team commits 1% of that to this project, or $48 million per year.
- NFL teams average 74,000 at each game or 592,000 per season. Each ticket holder pays $1 per ticket more to go to this project, or $19 million.
- This seeds this program with $105 million annually that is put together by the League, teams/owners, players, and fans. Is that too much money to give up? If it is, cut it in half! $52.5 million would be a good start
Who Designs, Implements and “runs” this Plan?
- Establish a consortium of experts comprised of NFL players, owners, League officers, Justice Department officials, State law enforcement, Local law enforcement, Mental Health experts, and Social Organization representatives. Select a group membership number that is inclusive but not so large in number to handicap the process of designing, creating, implementing, and operating such a program as this. Do not let bureaucracy manage it! Keep it in the hands of those who subscribe to the need and methodology to fulfill the project objectives.
- Keep it open to outside scrutiny with auditing authority — auditing authority of both processes and finances.
- Keep its processes, successes and failures, plans and ideas in the public arena. Even in failures let Americans know work is underway.
- No one person or group “owns” this process or controls it. It must remain a group effort with everyone involved filling identical shoes as far as importance.
These are suggestions and suggestions only. Shoot holes in them. Tell me I’m wrong. But most importantly, give alternate ideas. I started my company with specific processes that I devised 25 years ago. We don’t have a single process today that we did 25 years ago. Why? We found better ones and replaced the “old” ones. And all those new ones did NOT come from just me. This should run the same way.
No, sports do not run the world or control social issues in America. But sports and music are pretty much universal in at least speaking to each other. Why not use sports to find and implement the fixes to do our best to eradicate the ills in our society? Are we incapable of pushing together and pulling together to get something so important started and running? There will be those who pooh pah the idea for any of a number of reasons. They have the right to do so. But we ALL have the responsibility to create a better tomorrow for our children and their children.
Let’s get started…today. Start by posting your thoughts — pro or con — below. If you prefer to remain anonymous but have ideas, please email me your thoughts to share here anonymously at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for looking in.