Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kaepernick's protest is part of a patriotic tradition ~ @RevJJackson

Colin Kaepernick is treated as a pariah because he protested the continued oppression "of black people and people of color."
Kaepernick's protest is part of a patriotic tradition
August 31, 2017

Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, is being blackballed — itself a revealing phrase — from the National Football League with the collusion of the all-white owners. He is ostracized because a year ago he exercised his First Amendment right to free speech by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
Kaepernick isn’t hooked on drugs. He isn’t a felon. He hasn’t brutalized women. He is treated as a pariah because he protested the continued oppression “of black people and people of color.” He wanted, he said, to make people “realize what’s going on in this country. … There are a lot of things going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for, and that’s something that needs to change.” Born in Milwaukee, Wis., one of the most racially segregated cities in America, Kaepernick is particularly concerned about police brutality and the shocking police shootings of unarmed African Americans.
Surely his cause is just. Tens of thousands have joined peaceful demonstrations against police brutality in cities across the country. That movement, led by Black Lives Matter, put the issue of our institutionalized criminal injustice system back on the national agenda. Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department reached agreements with dozens of police departments to change police training and tactics. There was bipartisan agreement to change racially discriminatory sentencing practices.
Kaepernick’s protest was nonviolent and dignified. The San Francisco 49ers, the NFL and President Obama all agreed that it was a protected act of free speech.
Yet the owners of the NFL and their front offices have ostracized Kaepernick. No follower of the sport would question his skill level. There are 64 quarterbacks on NFL teams, many of whom can’t hold a candle to Kaepernick. He’s ranked as the 17th best quarterback in the league. When he came back from injury last year, he started the last 11 games, racking up a 90.7 QB rating, with 16 touchdowns running and passing and only four interceptions, while playing on a team sorely lacking in talent. That rating was better than stars like Cam Newton, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, among others.
Sports writers report that Kaepernick is loathed by the white owners and front offices, some of whom denounce him as unpatriotic. But what Kaepernick did — a dignified, nonviolent protest to raise awareness of a true and just cause — is the height of patriotism. It is the essence of democratic citizenship.
Others claim Kaepernick is excluded because he would be divisive, and teams have to be run with military discipline. But, our military has learned to succeed with people of all races, genders, sexual preferences and political perspectives. Almost 70 percent of the players on NFL teams are African American. For most of them, Kaepernick’s protests are not as divisive as Tom Brady’s open support of Donald Trump. Last year, Kaepernick’s teammates voted to give him the annual award for “inspirational and courageous play.”
No, Kaepernick is being treated as a pariah by the private club of white owners who are terrified of controversy. They clean up big time from public subsidies — tax breaks, public contributions to stadiums, television contracts — and they tremble at anything that might disrupt the gravy train. They want to make an example of Kaepernick as a way of teaching the rest of the players a lesson, hoping to keep plantation-like control of their players.
Kaepernick stands in a proud history of African-American athletes who have used their prominence to protest racism at home and unjust wars abroad. They have chosen to speak out at the height of their powers and in their prime money-making years. Often they have paid a high price personally, in their careers, their finances, their stature. And yet in the end, their sacrifice helped make this country better.
Muhammad Ali opposed the Vietnam War and was prosecuted for refusing to be inducted into the armed forces, stripped of his title and barred from fighting. He lost some of the best years of his boxing life, but his protest helped build the antiwar movement that eventually brought that tragic and misbegotten war to an end.
Curt Flood, an all-star centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, refused to be bought and sold “like a slave.” His protest and litigation cost him much of his career, but it broke open the owners’ control of players, opened the way to free agency and transformed baseball.
Jackie Robinson broke open the racial barrier in baseball. He endured seasons of racial insult, on and off the field. His remarkable skill and character transformed baseball, and helped spur the civil rights movement. He joined Dr. King in the demonstrations for civil rights. In his autobiography, “I Never Had It Made,” published just before his death, he related his own feelings about the national anthem, as it played at the beginning of his first World Series game:
“There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper … a symbolic hero to my people. … The band struck up the National Anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the National Anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again….
“As I write this 20 years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.”
Colin Kaepernick stands in a proud tradition. For choosing to speak out, he has been shut out. The collusion of the owners not only violates antitrust laws; it tramples basic constitutional protections. The NFL owners should be called to account, not Kaepernick.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

"Our job is not to allow them to divide us up" ~ @BernieSanders

Friends of Bernie Sanders

I recently returned to Burlington after great events in Indianapolis and Detroit, cities that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, and Portsmouth, Ohio, a community that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.
At each stop, I met people of all backgrounds who had an enormous amount in common. Whether they voted for Clinton, Trump or me they wanted jobs that paid a living wage, health care that was affordable and the ability to send their kids to college no matter what their income was.
And with the recent events in Charlottesville weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, they want to live in a country free of racism and bigotry. Unlike the president, they know there are no "nice" Nazis.
I wanted to go to these three very different communities because our mission is to bring people together in every zip code in the country. At a time when Trump and his allies are trying to divide us up by race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin, our job is to bring people together to create an economy and a government that works for everyone, not just the 1 percent.
We recorded a short video of the trip. I hope that you’ll watch it and listen to some of the stories from the tour. Then share it with your friends on social media.
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During the presidential campaign, I made it a point to stop at conservative areas like Liberty University and McDowell County, West Virginia. I did that because it is imperative that we go beyond our political comfort zones, start reaching out to people who do not agree with us on every issue and see where, if possible, we can find common ground. And believe me, there is a lot more common ground out there than the media portrays.
I can tell you definitively that people I have met of all backgrounds -- men and women, gay and straight, black, white, Latinx, Asian and Native American -- are sick and tired of a government and an economy that works overtime for the rich and the powerful while ignoring the needs of working people. Very few people that I have talked to, whether they are Democrats, Republicans or Independents, believe it makes any sense at all to give tax breaks to billionaires while throwing 23 million Americans off of health insurance or privatizing Medicare.
Most people that I have talked to, from Maine to California, believe strongly in the concept of American democracy. They disagree with the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United and do not believe that billionaires like the Koch brothers should be able to buy elections or that governors should mount massive campaigns of voter suppression -- efforts that are intentionally denying people of color, low-income people and students the ability to participate in the political process.
And increasingly, people of all economic backgrounds understand that it is a moral abomination that in the richest country in the history of the world we remain the only developed nation on this earth that does not guarantee health care as a right to every man, woman and child.
I encourage you to watch the video from the tour and see the conversations that took place over the past two days. You can do that here:
In Indianapolis, I joined with Chuck Jones, the former head of the Steelworkers, who stood up to Donald Trump when he lied about saving jobs at the Carrier plant in Indiana and continues to stand up for American workers. I heard T.J. Bray, a Carrier worker whose family, including five aunts and uncles, has more than 125 years of service at the company. He watched as Donald Trump promised to save all their jobs at Carrier and he watched as that promise was broken and 550 of his co-workers were laid off.
In Detroit, I joined Representative John Conyers, one of the great progressive leaders in Congress, who has repeatedly introduced legislation that would ensure health care is a right in this country.
And in Portsmouth, Ohio, I met Zach, who told the story of caring for his nearly three year old daughter who was diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Zach makes $9 an hour and he and his wife rely on Medicaid to take care of their daughter.
As you may know, in the next few weeks I’ll be introducing my Medicare-for-all bill. The campaign to pass this legislation will not be easy and it will not be quick. We will be taking on the insurance industry, the drug companies, Wall Street and all those who make billions from our dysfunctional health care system. The only way we win that struggle is when millions of Americans at the grass-roots level, stand up, fight back and make it clear that in this country we believe that health care is a right, not a privilege.
The recent events I attended in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan were great. The turnouts were large and the people there were strong and beautiful. Those who came out to our rallies and town meetings know what you know and what I know. And that is that if people of all backgrounds can come together and fight for economic, social, racial and environmental justice there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
And that is our job. Stand together, fight back and create the great nation that we all know we can become.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

P.S. As you know, I don’t go around asking millionaires and billionaires for money. These trips, and our political revolution, is funded by working people of all backgrounds chipping small amounts of money to power our movement forward. If you can afford it — and only if you can afford it — add a $58 donation today:

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville ~ Nina Turner & Our Revolution @ninaturner @ourrevolution

Our Revolution

Yesterday an act of domestic terrorism took the lives of Heather Heyer, a fellow Bernie supporter and coworker in the movement for social justice, and two police officers, Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bate. Many others are suffering from injuries. Make no mistake, this was an intentional act of hatred by white nationalists. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this act of terrorism and their families.
Sadly, we know that the history of this country is plagued by racial violence and the false notion of white supremacy. From Native American genocide, to slavery, and the era of lynchings, groups like the Ku Klux Klan have sought to take power from people of color through fear and violence. We will not let them, or fear, win.
Look out for updates on vigils and actions in support of Charlottesville on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” We the people, who believe in what the promise of America can become, must continue our fight for racial justice and equality by being strategic and vocal in opposing this public display of hatred and racism. We will continue this justice journey, and no amount of hatred can stop a people determined to rise together.
In solidarity,
Nina Turner
Our Revolution
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