To “Dis” or Not to “Dis” the Flag
To “Dis” or Not to “Dis” the Flag
By Reverend Dr. Derrick J. Hughes
“Disrespects the flag…” What does it mean to “Dis” the flag? President Trump also said on his infamous Twitter account, “Burning a flag is a peaceful and respectful way for citizens of this great country to voice their displeasure. Very powerful.”
H’mmmm…Let’s get this straight: Kneeling down silently during the raising of the flag is disrespectful, but burning the flag is respectful? Again, I say, “To Dis or Not to Dis the Flag?” Maybe it is who is doing the “Dissing”.
Perhaps Tommie Smith (Gold) and John Carlos (Bronze) were being disrespectful in 1968 at the Mexico City Olympics when they raised their fists in salute to Black power during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem as they received their medals. Perhaps Rosie Parks in 1955 was being disrespectful when she had had enough and decided to sit in the “Whites Only” section of the bus while she paid the same fare as Whites but was told to sit in the back of the bus or go to jail. She chose the latter.
In 2017, if one decides to kneel down during the playing of the National Anthem, they too are not only being “disrespectful” but “sons-of-bitches”. If history has taught us anything, it’s that today’s “sons-of-bitches” are tomorrow’s heroes.
In good ol’ Mr. Charlie type vernacular, Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys said regarding the recent stance by NFL members to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem: “You are all simply paid performers on a stage and that field is my stage! You will stand, with your hand over your heart and with respect, when our country’s National Anthem is being played or you will no longer be a Dallas Cowboy, a coach for the Dallas Cowboys, or have any association with the Dallas Cowboy organization! I will fire you, no matter who you are!”
Again, I say, “To Dis or to Not Dis the Flag”? The question has been: is taking a knee during the National Anthem being disrespectful? The real question is: what will taking-a-knee during the National Anthem cost those who will do it or what is the cost of silence? Does the beauty of the flag and the song cover up the injustices that started this entire stance in the first place?
R&B singer Erykah Badu says in lyric fashion, “Take a Knee”.
We are all watching to see
who will take a knee
We say if it were me
It would be so easy
But when you’ve suffered
Misery and have worked
To be what they call free
And are conditioned to
Believe what they say on TV
It’s hard to see the history
You are comfortably numb
To the indignity
Suffered by the collective WE
You watched mama struggle years
Social Media in your ears
And now the moment that you feared
All suited up you swallow tears
So though your legs are wobbly
You can’t go back to poverty…
We can ill afford to allow Colin Kaepernick’s original intent—that this country must do better in the disproportional injustice of police brutality against African Americans. We cannot allow those who would rather sweep the obvious under the rug and say this is disrespectful to the flag to call this protest disrespectful. No, kneeling stands for the very thing the flag represents to our country. We’re the ‘land of the free’ but every citizen hasn’t been made to feel truly free. Why does it still seem like there are different rules for drivers based on the color of one’s skin?
To Dis or Not to Dis the flag? We would be disrespecting the flag if we said nothing and did nothing about the racial injustices that African Americans face for still far too long in this country. We would be disrespecting the flag if the NFL players stopped their protests because of fear of their jobs. It cost Colin Kaepernick a job but we will look back on this time and say, it cost Colin but it paid dividends for others. We would be disrespecting the flag if you and I only allow the NFL players to partake in this stand. We must kneel with them in some form or the other. History would shame us if we allow them to stand alone. It would be a disrespect to them and to our forefathers who stood, walked, sat, drenched by water hoses and chased by dogs. Perhaps it is good to be disrespectful when being disrespectful is speaking up for those who can-not speak up for themselves. Don’t stop! Be “Disrespectful” in the dignity of right and justice. Shall we stand in shame or kneel in dignity? Again I say, “To Dis or Not to Dis the Flag.”