Just days before the July 4th celebration of this nation’s birth, apparently Nike planned to release a new pair of sneakers to commemorate the occasion and to quite possibly make a few dollars at the same time. But then something happened to get in the way. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick shared his opinion that he believed that this Betsy Ross designed flag made back in the 1700’s represented racism. Why? because it represented a time when Black’s were considered chattel slavery. As a result, Nike quickly contacted the distribution centers and or stores and requested that the sneakers be returned to Nike.
What happened next was a series of reactions by the Left to support and defend Kaepernick and Nike’s position by adopting the same narrative and saying that the Betsy Ross flag was a symbol of racism because it represented a time in which Blacks were slaves.
WHO IS COLIN KAEPERNICK?
First of all, it makes sense to take a quick look at who this person is that can make a multi-billion dollar corporation pull thousands of sneakers back even before they’ve reached the shelves by simply saying, “I’m offended at the design of this sneaker.” In other words, had you or me (the average person) spoke up and said the exact same thing, would Nike have responded the same way? Not likely. So why does Colin Kaepernick have such influence?
Colin Kaepernick and his adoptive parents shared their early life experience with the viewers.
Granted the subject isn’t about Colin Kaepernick but he is the catalyst behind the movement. When looking at this situation one notices that Colin Kaepernick is a biological product of bi-racial parents (a white mother and his father was a man of color). He was adopted at approximately five weeks old by a white couple (the Kaepernicks) and became a part of an all white family. All indications are that he was raised within a loving, caring and nurturing family that tried to minimize any feelings of being an outsider or different.
As far as athletics go, Kaepernick was a very talented multi-sport athlete, that was a low round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs, but his love was football and he was only offered a scholarship to the University of Nevada where his outstanding performance apparently got him into the NFL. Some would argue that he was simply a second string quarterback with limited talent, while others would say that he had enough talent to lead his team to a narrow loss in the Super Bowl.
Nevertheless, Kaepernick’s apparent advocacy efforts seems to have had its start a few years following the Super Bowl loss. If his concern about fighting oppression preexisted then it may not have been as apparent as it is now. What happened during those few years we do not know but it apparently sparked a life altering era of personal enlightenment and social consciousness. The timing for this protest couldn’t be more fortunate for those who support identify politics and may have been looking for items to promote an “America is racist” narrative.
The other relevant question that’s endemic here is, “what may have influenced his thinking?” The truth is, unless he tells us we may never know for sure but we can speculate to ourselves. Most of us should have no doubt that he was raised within a loving and caring home. Some may say that being raised by parents of a different race or color limits one growth and development within one’s own identity. It’s similar to the old adage that “it takes a man to help a boy to know how to be a man.” Whether true or not, perception often becomes one’s reality. Another speculation can also be that of apologizing for being raised within a privileged environment when others of your kind are struggling therefore, one would try to compensate by proving that one is Black by vigorously advocating for the Black cause. Again, these are all speculations.
However, nevertheless, let me close this thought by saying this, no amount of speculation in any way minimizes the issues or concerns that Kaepernick is fighting for, nor does it reduce the genuineness of his dedication to this cause.
WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT FROM THE LEFT?
Colin Kaepernick shares his thoughts on why he is speaking out against oppression in this country. He also states that his protest is against the Flag (which was not the Betsy Ross flag at that time) and the National Anthem.
Jeffrey Kohn, Flag historian indicates that this particular flag represented this country up until 1916. That is approximately fifty years after the abolition of slavery. This flag apparently was not an issue until it was (as seen in the video) co-opted by some white supremacist e.g., Jeremy Joseph Christian. A predominantly white high school in Michigan used this flag at a football game against a predominantly Black team. The school’s Superintendent identified the flag as a symbol of exclusion and hate.
Mike Muse of Sirius XM radio, gives his thoughts on the Nike controversy. His concern as others have expressed is that a white supremacist group has reportedly co-opted the symbol of the Betsy Ross flag and therefore by implication the racist group now owns the symbol and no one else can use it. Plus, because of this it has now become the new Confederate flag. Secondly, the Betsy Ross era flag represents America when slavery was at its core. And he also asks a question, what is patriotism and how do you define it?
Michael Eric Dyson in an interview speaks out giving his understanding of why the Left has now objected to the Betsy Ross flag. 1) A white supremacist group had recently adopted the Betsy Ross styled flag as its own symbol of hate. 2) George Washington and others owned slaves, 3) The Right is loosing the battle of interpretation, 4) Why don’t we wear a swastika, burn a cross, we don’t because it makes a difference. Nike can’t celebrate the cross because it is a symbol of hate.
WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT (INTERPRETATION) FROM THE RIGHT?
It is important to note in response that the current symbol that we now know as the swastika that represented Adolph Hitler and the Nazi’s party as a clear symbol of hate, didn’t start off belonging to the Nazi’s. In fact, it was the Nazis that hijacked it from other cultures. The cultures that used it (and use it still) never gave it a hateful meaning, in fact it was used to call forth good fortune. The same thing with the Christian cross. It represents salvation for those who believe in Jesus Christ. However, the Ku Klux Klan hijacked the symbol and added fire to it (cross burning) to represent hatred. In both cases, the symbols that were originally meant to symbolize good had been hijacked by white supremacists, while true symbols of racism such as the Confederate flag and its anthem of Dixie Land which was deliberately created to represent a separated nation based on its desire to maintain slavery is being equated with the Betsy Ross flag which was never meant to represent racism but a nation having declared their independence.
To address Mike Muse’s points I would say that, 1) If you know that the symbol was not itself originally intended to be a symbol of racism (which is the case here) then why would you go along with acquiescing to a racial hate group hijacking a national symbol of the country and changing its inherit meaning without challenging them on it, because a national flag by default belongs to everyone under that flag? As soon as this happened, all media types should have spoken and challenged it. 2) Yes, slavery was active during that time in America and around the world but because it was the nation’s flag at that time it can’t help but to be associated with what was going on during that time. But the flag itself didn’t represent slavery as the Confederate flags intentionally represented slavery. You are making this flag guilty by undue association which is unreasonable.
So what happened? Hatred took a cultural symbol that was originally meant for good and hijacked it to promote racism. We should not tolerate the proliferation of this co-optive practice of our sacred symbols. The same should go for the “Betsy Ross flag” that was used to represent George Washington’s army that was preparing to defend this country as a free and independent nation from Great Britain.
Moreover, the Betsy Ross flag apparently was not always viewed as a symbol of exclusion and hate before the most recent adoption of this nomenclature by those on the Left. It was simply, “the Betsy Ross flag.” Case in point, when former President Barack H. Obama was inaugurated this flag was among other version of the American flag that flew boldly behind him. The entire nation watched the flag flying and no one apparently said anything about the nearly two hundred and fifty year old flag. Why, because it wasn’t considered a symbol of exclusion and hatred.
11Alive.com verified the truth of the flying of this flag at both Obama inaugurations. There were no issues with the Betsy Ross flag at that time. This begs the question, was that because the Democratic Left had control, but now that President Trump is in the White House with a Republican controlled Senate that now it becomes a symbol of exclusion and racism?
WHO WAS BETSY ROSS?
Betsy Ross was credited as being the seamstress responsible for making the very first American flag. Spiritually she was raised as a member of the Society of Friends (aka) Quakers, and then married her first husband John Ross who was an Episcopalian. Although it is believed that the early American Quakers participated in slavery just as other people in American society, the Quakers soon reviewed the ethical merits of slavery and slave holding, and in 1754 the Society of Friends at their Philadelphia Yearly meeting, officially declared that slave holding was unrighteous. With Betsy Ross being born on January 1, 1952, she would have been raised to believe that slavery was a sin and a crime against humanity.
WHY A FLAG?
For most Americans we believe that the National flag was originally intended to represent this nation which identifies us and therefore separates us from every other nation. Moreover, it was a symbol of unity for all who served and lived under it. However, it was more likely that then General George Washington wanted a flag not so much for his country’s pride but for his army. If that were the case (which likely it was) then it is very unlikely that it wasn’t constructed to reflect racism and exclusion.
WELL WHAT ABOUT SLAVERY DURING THAT TIME?
Granted, slavery was an apparent part of how the world did business and so much so that it seemed that every country in the world participated. It was also a major part of the fabric here in America, and for a timeline you can click on this link for Sharon Draper’s Slavery Timeline here in America. Moreover, because the practice of slavery was so common throughout the world, that it wasn’t unusual for the new settlers not to think twice about continuing the practice in the new world. It maybe because of this view, that slavery itself was never declared illegal by the Federal government around the time of the early colonies, therefore it was by de facto legalized. States made up their own laws regarding slavery but slavery was never a federal law. In other words, the United States government (which was represented by this flag) was never in the business of slavery, it was the states. It wasn’t until Congress passed the 13th Amendment that officially abolished slavery for all.
In between time some historical “facts” regarding slavery in America or the Nexus of what one author (Ray Harvey) have indicated that although African slaves and the trading of African slaves were common starting with Africans being enslaved within their own land as a result of war and being traded to Europeans for goods, thereby landing many of them within America; this reportedly morphed into two Africans in particular setting a legal precedence that worked against them that prompted the American slaveholders to make it a legal institution within their respective states. Important please don’t miss this point, with Africans capturing and enslaving other Africans or having slaves through the indentured servitude of other Africans, it is very unlikely that the Europeans would have been as successful getting the slaves off of the continent of Africa without the help, permission and cooperation of other African tribes. Furthermore, this dynamic has nothing to do with the “Betsy Ross flag. ”
To share a further commentary on this video regarding whether or not America was founded on slavery, or built on slavery, I will not dispute the author’s facts, but I will say that with millions upon millions of African slaves working without wages and doing the majority of the heavy lifting during that time by slaves in the South and the North (yes there were slaves in the North and the North also benefited from slavery), it would seem to go without saying that America overall profited from the work of the slaves and without a doubt became major contributors to the growth and prosperity of all the good things that America has become…under this flag.
AFRICAN CONTRIBUTIONS UNDER THE BETSY ROSS FLAG
There is a significant counter argument that Wall Builder’s founder David Barton brings up regarding the founding Fathers, i.e., George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, et al. and that argument is that America under the British rule of King George III., did not allow America to end slavery here in the colonies. Moreover, the attitudes of the Founding Father’s were overwhelmingly anti-slavery and wanted to abolish it. This link will take you to the site for further documentation.
David Barton, noted American historian and Patriot shares some interesting facts about the American Flag. In fact, this same flag that the Left is now calling a symbol of racism was carried by William Harvey Carney during the Civil War leading the Union troops against the Confederates, and he was shot four times. He received the Medal of Honor, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed to an American citizen. He was also apart of the C Company of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment with other Blacks fighting for freedom under this same flag. There was a movie honoring this brave regiment entitled Glory. When you see the movie please notice the flag under which they fought and died.
Lemuel Haynes, was an African American preacher and he also was a Minuteman and fought with General George Washington in the Revolutionary War under the “Betsy Ross flag.”
Crispus Attucks, was the very first American killed in the war for independence against the British. He died standing up for freedom under the same “Betsy Ross flag.”
There were many other Blacks both slave and free who served and died in many capacities for this nation’s growth and freedom even under dire circumstances. Their contributions were outstanding without measure and have been responsible for many of the conveniences that we experience today under that very Betsey Ross flag. So please don’t minimize their sacrifices in the name of racism and political correctness. Because when we look at this flag what we should see is something far more than chattel slavery, we should see it as a symbol of those who suffered and yet against all odd overcame in the face of great indignities. Just by the fact that Black Americans are here and thriving today is a living testament to their inherited greatness.
Civil Rights leaders including Frederick Douglas a former slave praised the Declaration of Independence. Why is that important? Because it shows that these leaders of color knew and understood the history and the purpose of the document. It embraces and espouses the very spirit of what America is all about. It sets a standard for which this nation is called to meet. This document does not identify race, color or creed. It simply says that “All men (non gender specific) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Therefore, it is up to every American citizen to hold everyone who holds an office within this nation to this very standard. Moreover, it is this very document, that was to be represented and reflected within the flag that we now call the “Betsy Ross” flag. The thirteen stars and stripes represent those states who would dare to stand up to the British king and say, “we no longer wish to be a part of an unjust rule and tyranny and so we will go on our own.”
During this most recent July 4th celebration, a number of partisans on the Left have reached back and dusted off the speech that Frederick Douglas gave to a group of Anti-Slavery women. His speech was sharp and to the point. As a Black man in 1952 he looked around and still saw the horrors of slavery. His base message to his audience was simply, to a slave who looks and watches a nation celebrate its independence it is a mockery to the slave. It was something that needed to be said. What is important to note and is worthy to take away from Mr. Douglas’s speech is that 1) he addressed the issues and not personalities. There were no name calling or insulting anyone or group of persons for the problem. He merely stated the problem more clearly, as the saying goes, rising tides hasn’t raised all boats. 2) Even more importantly, because of this problem he was holding white America accountable to uphold the standards of its own Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Preamble of the Constitution. He didn’t denounce the documents as being a fraud, or disrespected the flag by saying it represents racism and therefore he would not honor it, there is no where in history where he discredits the National Anthem, he simply reminded them that they set the standard and it is important that they meet this standard for all Americans. Fourteen years later in 1865, slavery was officially ended in America.
The contributions and the boldness of African Americans as stated previously has been and still are significant. Even today we are still just scratching the surface of their contributions. In 2017 the film Hidden Figures placed a spotlight on the work of the Black Women working for NASA and was every bit as responsible for placing astronauts into space and bringing them home again safely. These women of color did it for their people, and their country and just as important they did it under our current flag. The same flag that Colin Kaepernick kneels down to before every game, and in so doing, he and all of the others who disrespect this or any American flag in the name of racism and hatred, is also disrespecting the work and the sacrifices that were made by their fore-parents that made their freedom a reality today.
CONCLUSION: We’re living in a climate of political and social correctness. This correctness is apparently meant to change and redefine what we’ve been seeing, saying and doing for generations. This correctness is not to improve our future but to erase the past. My concern in forgetting the past is the old adage, “he who forgets the past are doomed to repeat it.” Our history is so horrific at places that we can never risk the possibility of repeating it. Therefore, I say, keep the Confederate statues and the plaques, not to honor the hatred of men, but to be reminded of the hatred that lies ahead.
When the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement and blatant racism was being practiced all around us, he rarely if ever called someone a racist. What he did was openly addressed the issues. By addressing the issues, the dynamics of racism, sexism and all of the other “isms” became more apparent to all, and it made it easier for those on both sides of the issues to be more willing to have a “Difficult Conversation” because they weren’t being personally attacked. He sought to unit people and not divide them.
Regarding the Betsy Ross flag, I believe we’ve made a strong enough case against the flag itself being considered a symbol of racism and offense, any more than oceans, ships, cotton, or trees would be. However, even though the flag was originally created to represent George Washington’s army and this new nation as its symbol of freedom, it did not in any way ever intend to be offensive. However, it doesn’t mean that anyone for any reason at any time would not decide to take offense. So I would say posthumously to those who historically developed the flag and to those who currently hold it so dear, you must understand that any offense that someone else may take is totally outside of your control. We can control our intent in what we say and do, but we can’t control how others feel about it.
DISCLAIMER: It is important to note that this response is in no way meant to disrespect or offend anyone or their opinion in anyway and we acknowledge the sensibilities of this very controversial subject. In fact, this writer holds everyone’s opinion in high regard even though it maybe completely disagreed with. Nevertheless, this article is to present another view of the subject.
IMHO!!! So this is my opinion, what is yours? Please comment below.