Category: Struggle for African American equality
Who was Muhiyidin d’Baha, Black Lives Matter activist gunned down in New Orleans?

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2018/02/who_was_muhiyidin_dbaha_black.html#incart_push

Who was Muhiyidin d’Baha, Black Lives Matter activist gunned down in New Orleans?

Muhiyidin d’Baha, identified by the New Orleans Police Department as the 32-year-old man who died after being shot on Bienville Street early Tuesday (Feb. 6), was a Black Lives Matter activist from Charleston, S.C.

d’Baha, whose legal name is Muhiyidin Elamin Moye, made national headlines in February 2017 when he took a flying leap to wrestle a large Confederate battle flag from a protester in South Carolina, and the event was captured on video.

That incident occurred at an event at the College of Charleston, where activist Bree Newsome – known herself for climbing a flagpole to remove a Confederate flag at the statehouse in Columbia, S.C. – was speaking.

d’Baha was at the event, and told the Washington Post he was talking to elders in his group when he saw someone holding the flag.

“And I looked at our elders and I saw, like, fear in their eyes,” he said. “And I saw them back up, almost. That was the moment for me. We’re not going to pass this on another generation. Not another generation of people are going to be intimidated by this flag.”

He leapt across caution tape and tried to grab the flag away to “help them understand what it is to meet a real resistance, to meet people that aren’t scared,” he told the Post.

He was charged with disorderly conduct and malicious injury to real property, according to The Post and Courier in Charleston. The sequence of events was caught on video, as well as on a live TV broadcast, and the footage rapidly spread online.

Muhiyidin d’Baha grabs Confederate flag at protest.

d’Baha is originally from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and moved with his family to South Carolina when he was 13, according to an interview in the New Yorker.

“As a kid, he got in trouble for stealing cars, but then he straightened himself out and went to a good magnet school; in college, he studied psychology and played football,” the New Yorker article said.

In that interview, he spoke of the conflict he saw in “respectability politics,” referring to what the article described as “voices of forgiveness” from the black church community in court proceedings for Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at a black Charleston church.

“That was accommodating white feelings and white superiority. It was ‘Yes, Massa, can I have another?’,” he said in the interview. “But, at the same time, it was spiritual fortitude forged in a crucible of terrorism. It speaks of a spiritual level that I haven’t attained… There has been an arrangement here, created over generations, to be able to endure terrorism. At this point, this is the way it is. We endure. We don’t ask for more.”

A candidate for mayor of North Charleston in 2019, Thomas Dixon, who leads an activist group there call The Coalition, told the Charleston City Paper that d’Baha was “a consummate social justice activist.”

While the two disagreed on some matters, Dixon told the outlet, “we both understood that the mission and the message superseded differences, so we were always friends no matter what.”

Dixon wrote in his activist group’s Facebook page on Tuesday to meet that evening with flowers outside City Hall to remember d’Baha.

“My brother, I am eternally grateful to you and for you … for your spirit that refused to accept injustice, your courage that showed the world that fear in the face of wrong was not an option, and your strength that kept you on the battlefield, even when no one else was there,” Dixon wrote of d’Baha on the Coalition’s Facebook page.

Brandon Fish, who described d’Baha as his “dear friend” in a social media post, wrote of the loss on Facebook. “We all have lost so much, so very much, whether you know it or not. This world was a better place because he walked around in it,” Fish wrote, asking for respect for the family as more information is made available.

Damon Fordham, historian and author of a 2008 book, True Stories of Black South Carolina, wrote in a Facebook post he saw d’Baha last summer, before d’Baha “left for Louisiana, where he passed.” Fordham said in the post d’Baha reached out to him for historical information to guide him, and referred to Fordham and his nephew as “big brothers.”

“To those who complained of the apathy of the millennial generation, he was proof of the error of that thinking,” Fordham wrote.

 

Scandalize my Name…

Scandalize my Name…

– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

For the owners, publishers, and editors of the The New York Review of Books anti-Communism is still alive. The periodical occupies a unique, indispensable role in fostering and sustaining Cold War myths and legends.

The New York Review of Books has embraced rabid anti-Communism since its opportunistic birth in the midst of a newspaper strike. Founded by a cabal of virulent anti-Communists with identifiable links to the CIA through The Paris Review and the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, NYRB maintains the posture of the popular intellectual journal for academics, high-brow book clubbers, and coffee shop leftists for over half a century. Seldom would an issue go by without an earnest petition signed by intellectual celebrities pointing to human rights concerns in some far-off land that was coincidentally (perhaps?) also in the crosshairs of the US State Department. To be sure, the NYRB would muster a measure of indignation over the most egregious US adventures, particularly when they threatened to blemish the US image as the New Jerusalem.

Even with the Cold War behind us, the NYRB maintains an active stable of virulent anti-Soviet writers, partly to hustle its back list of Cold War classics and obscure “dissident” scribblers, partly to pre-empt any serious anti-capitalist thought that might emerge shorn of Red-dread.

Paul Robeson on Trial

In a recent essay/book review (The Emperor Robeson, 2-08-18), the NYRB brought its Red-chopping hatchet to the legacy of Paul Robeson in a piece transparently ill-motivated and poisonous.

Paul Robeson was nothing if not an exceptional, courageous political figure who galvanized US racial and political affairs in mid-century. Yet NYRB assigned Simon Callow, a UK theater personality, to the writing task despite the fact that he reveals in an interview cited in Wikipedia that “I’m not really an activist, although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that actually make a difference…” And his essay bears out this confession along with his embarrassing ignorance of US history and the dynamics of US politics.

Callow begins his essay seemingly determined to prove his inadequacy to the task: “When I was growing up in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, Paul Robeson was much in evidence… His name was haloed with the sort of respect accorded to few performers…” He then goes on at some length, heaping praise on Robeson. Then suddenly at “some point in the 1960s, he faded from our view…”

Whether Callow’s impressions are reflective of the UK experience is irrelevant. Surely, the important truth, the relevant fact, is that in Robeson’s country– the US– he was, throughout that time, a veritable non-person, the victim of a merciless witch hunt. To fail to acknowledge the fact that Robeson and his work were virtually unknown, were erased by the thought police, underscores Callow’s unfitness to discuss Robeson’s career. Indeed, members of the crowd that sought, at that time, to put lipstick on the ugly pig of racism and anti-Communism were soon to found the NYRB.

To say, as Callow does, that before the Cold War Robeson was “…lionized on both sides of the Atlantic…” is to display an unbelievable ignorance of the racial divide in the US. Robeson’s unequalled command of and success at multiple disciplines failed to spare him the indignities and inequalities that befell all African Americans in that era of US apartheid.

As for the post-World War II Red-scare, Callow simply ignores it as if it never occurred. Never mind the harassment, the surveillance, the denied careers, the confiscated passports, and the HUAC subpoenas that Robeson, like thousands of others, suffered from a hysterical, vicious anti-Communist witch hunt. For Callow, Robeson’s problems spring from a meeting granted by then President Truman in which Robeson had the audacity to make demands on his government. “From that moment on…” Callow tells us, “…the government moved to discredit Robeson at every turn…”

What a deft, nimble way to skirt the suffocating, life-denying effects of an entire era of unbridled racism and anti-Communism.

And, from Callow’s myopic perspective, Robeson’s campaign for peace and Cold War sanity resulted in “…universal approbation turned overnight into nearly universal condemnation.” For Callow, standing for peace against the tide of mindless conformity and mass panic is not the mark of courage and integrity, but a tragic career move.

In contrast to Paul Robeson’s life-long defiance of unjust power, Callow attributes a different approach to Robeson’s father, William: “But the lesson was clear: the only way out of poverty and humiliation was hard, hard work– working harder than any white man would have to, to achieve a comparable result.” One waits futilely to read that this reality is precisely what son, Paul, was trying to correct.

Like so many of today’s belated, measured “admirers” of Paul Robeson, Callow cannot resist delving into Robeson’s sexual proclivities, an interest which bears relevance that frankly escapes me. Similarly, Callow raises the matter of Robeson’s mental health and his withdrawal from public life.

Rather than considering the toll that decades of selfless struggle and tenacious resistance might have taken on Robeson’s body and mind, as it did countless other victims of the Red Scare, Callow contrives different explanations. “Robeson, it is clear, knew that his dream was just that: that the reality was otherwise. But he had to maintain his faith, otherwise what else was there?” So, for Callow, Robeson’s bad faith was responsible for mental issues and ill health. It was not a medical condition, the emotional stress of racism, or the repression of his political views that explain his decline. Instead, it was the consequences of bad politics.

Paraphrasing the author of a book on Robeson that Callow favors, he speculates that Robeson’s physical and mental decline “may have directly stemmed from the desperate requests from Robeson’s Russian friends to help them get out of the nightmarish world they found themselves in.” We are asked to believe that a man who resisted every temptation of success, defied the racial insults of his time, and steadfastly defended his commitment to socialism was brought to his knees by anti-Soviet media rumors? Certainly, there is no evidence for this outlandish claim.

Again, using author Jeff Sparrow (No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson) as his mouthpiece, Callow reveals his “problem” with Robeson: “…Robeson’s endorsement of Stalin and Stalin’s successors, his refusal to acknowledge what had been done in Stalin’s name, is the tragedy of his life.” In other words, like Budd Schulberg’s fictional snitch in On the Waterfront, if Robeson had only denounced his class, ratted on his friends, and bent to authority, he could have been a “contender” for the respect of liberals and the blessings of bourgeois success. But since he didn’t, his life was “a pitiful spectacle.”

Thankfully, there are still many who draw inspiration from the “pitiful spectacle” of Paul Robeson’s extraordinary life.

One Who Does

As if misunderstanding Robeson were not enough, Callow attacks a prominent scholar who does understand Robeson’s legacy. In contrast with his fawning review of the Sparrow book (“as different as chalk and cheese”), Callow demeans the contribution of one of the most gifted and thorough chroniclers of the page in history that included the life of Robeson. As a historian, Gerald Horne’s prodigious work stretches across books on such politically engaged Robeson contemporaries as WEB DuBois, Ben Davis, Ferdinand Smith, William Patterson, Shirley Graham DuBois, and John Howard Lawson. His writings explore the blacklist and The Civil Rights Congress, both keys to understanding Robeson and his time. In most cases, they represent the definitive histories of the subject.

But Callow prefers the shallow Sparrow account that substitutes the overused literary devices of “in search of../searching for…” to mask its limited scholarly ambition.

Callow is baffled by Horne’s Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary. Horne’s insistence that Robeson was a ‘revolutionary’ makes Callow apoplectic (“…page after page…”). But if Robeson was not an authentic, modern US revolutionary, then who was?

Callow cannot find a “clear picture of Robeson’s personality” in the Horne account, a conclusion that probably should not trouble Horne who seems more interested in history rather than psychology.

Callow’s sensibilities are especially offended by Horne’s depiction of the odious Winston Churchill, the man many believe to share responsibility for the WWI blood bath at Gallipoli and the two million deaths in the Bengal famine of 1943. It seems that Horne’s words for the short, chubby, Champagne and Cognac-loving prima donna– “pudgy, cigar-chomping, alcohol-guzzling Tory” — struck Callow’s ears as “vulgar.”

But Callow spews his own venomous insults: Horne’s book lacks “…articulate analysis, his account is numbing and bewildering in equal measure, like being addressed from a dysfunctional megaphone…”

Horne’s concluding endorsement of the relevance of Marx and Engels famous slogan– Workers of the World, Unite! –really brings Callow’s rancor to a boil: “I’m sorry to break it to Mr. Horne, but he doesn’t. And it isn’t.”

We surely know which side of the barricades Simon Callow has chosen.

The Legacy

The legacy of Paul Robeson has been maintained for the four decades since his death by his comrades and allies of the left, principally the Communist left. Most of those who worked and fought alongside of him have also passed away. Yet a small, but dedicated group of a few academics and more political activists have continued to tell his story and defend his values against a torrent of hostility or a wall of silence. Through the decades, he has been forced out of the mainstream– the history books and popular culture.

Of course, he was not alone in suffering anonymity for his Communist politics. Another giant who was brought down by Cold War Lilliputians, denigrated by hollow mediocrities, was African American Communist, Claudia Jones. Until recently, her powerful thinking on race, women’s rights, and socialism could only be found by those willing to search dusty corners of used book stores.

Perhaps no one promised to live and further Robeson’s legacy than the young writer Lorraine Hansberry, celebrated before her tragic death for her popular play, A Raisin in the Sun. Her work with Robeson and WEB DuBois on the paper, Freedom, brought her politics further in line with theirs: militant anti-racist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, Communist.

Forgotten by those who wish to portray her as a mere cultural critic, she famously called out Robert Kennedy’s elitist, patronizing posture in a meeting with Black civil rights leaders as enthusiastically recalled by James Baldwin.

Ignored by those who would like to see her as simply another civil rights reformer, her speech at a Monthly Review fundraiser, shortly before her death, resounds with revolutionary fervor:

If the present Negro revolt is to turn into a revolution, become sophisticated in the most advanced ideas abroad in the world, a leadership which will have had exposure to the great ideas and movements of our time, a Negro leadership which can throw off the blindness of parochialism and bathe the aspirations of the Negro people in the realism of the twentieth century, a leadership which has no illusion about the nature of our oppression and will no longer hesitate to condemn, not only the results of that oppression, but also the true and inescapable cause of it—which of course is the present organization of American society.

Today, there is a renewed interest in Robeson, Claudia Jones, and Lorraine Hansberry. Articles, books, and documentaries are appearing or are in the works. Some are offering ‘new’ perspectives on the lives of these extraordinary people, exploring aspects of their lives that show that their humanity perhaps reached further than previously thought. Yes, they were Communists, but they were not just Communists. Indeed, they belong to the world.

However, it would be a great tragedy if they were denied their conviction that capitalism– the present organization of American society, in Hansberry’s words– represented the foundation of other oppressions. It would be criminally dishonest if there were no acknowledgement that they were made enemies of the state precisely because they embraced socialism. For an African American, in racist, Cold War mid-century USA, the decision to embrace Communism was not taken lightly or frivolously. Robeson, Jones, and Hansberry knew exactly what that commitment meant to the forces of repression. And they risked it. They should be looked upon as people’s champions for their courage.

New researchers are welcome to explore other dimensions of the lives of these unbending fighters for social justice. But their authentic legacies are needed now more than ever.

Greg Godels
Robert E. Lee Mardi Gras beads are for losers | Opinion

http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2018/02/forever_lee_circle_mardi_gras.html

Like the monument whose removal they bemoan, the “Forever Lee Circle” beads that some revelers are planning to throw for this year’s Carnival are tailor made for losers.  Only losers would purchase them as throws, and only losers would want to catch them and take them home.

The Robert E. Lee monument itself honored a loser to make other losers feel better about losing.  The same is true for monuments to Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard.  Those monuments gloriously depicted losers so the losing side in the Civil War could maintain its delusions of grandeur and supremacy.

The monuments were the embodiment of that old aphorism:  If you can’t beat ’em, put up statues that pretend you did.  Or could have.  Or should have. Or will eventually.

The people responsible for the “Forever Lee Circle” beads are reportedly affiliated with the R.E. Lee Monumental Association, which, according to its website, was formed in New Orleans after Lee’s death in 1870.  The group lists three main goals on its website:  1) Ensure that the R.E. Lee monument be placed in the most honorable and respectable location as possible in the greater New Orleans area; 2) Educate and promote the historical importance of Robert E. Lee and Lee Circle in New Orleans; and 3) If bullet #1 is unattainable, build a new R.E. Lee monument in the greater New Orleans area.

A representative of Save Nola Heritage told WWL-TV that about 10,000 of the beads were produced. They’ve reportedly sold out.

The administrator for the “Forever Lee Circle” Facebook page, somebody whose online name is Mikas Eaux, said in an email to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “I hope the beads serve as a conduit to take the stigma out of southern history. People shouldn’t be afraid to be proud of their heritage.”

The person insisting that people should be proud of their heritage declined to give the SPLC his or her actual name.

This development should have been expected.  If people were defending monuments to Confederate leaders more than 150 years after the South’s surrender, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that less than a year after New Orleans removed four obnoxious monuments, we would see people on the losing side of the issue expressing their hurt in just this kind of way.

Hey, we didn’t win, so let’s troll the people on the streets of New Orleans! Let’s roll through a majority-black city and toss out beads that celebrate a person who fought to extend black people’s enslavement!

The monuments were obviously a greater offense than these beads.  They were bigger, they were intended to be permanent, and they were erected at a time when segregationists were in control.  They celebrated losers and were put up by losers, but at the same time they served as a reminder to black people that white people weren’t so defeated that they weren’t still on top.

Beads aren’t as big as monuments. They’re not immovable.  Indeed, they’re trifles. And they will be tossed in a city where black people are the majority and, by and large, control the politics.

The people who toss them may feel big and powerful from their elevated position on a float, but they’re in the political minority in New Orleans and are resorting to such provocation because they lacked the power to keep the Lee monument and the other problematic monuments in place.

The beads are no more about Southern heritage than the monuments were.  They are about celebrating the people who were fighting for slavery’s expansion.  There’s no way around that. But the R.E. Lee Monumental Association tries to get around that with some tricks of editing.  Go to the group’s website, and the first thing you see is an excerpt of an 1856 letter Lee wrote his wife: “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.”

Six years later Lee was leading the army fighting to preserve and expand slavery; so maybe we shouldn’t put much stock in his letter.

Or maybe we should find the whole letter and read past the part the Lee monument group quoted.

Lee claims slavery “is a greater evil to the white man than to the black race.” According to an 1859 newspaper report, Lee gave administered 39 lashes to a woman who’d run away when the plantation’s resident “slave-whipper” couldn’t bring himself to do it.  But, you know, his whipping her probably hurt him more than it hurt her.

Lee goes on to say in that 1856 letter that “blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa” and calls slavery the “painful discipline they are undergoing.” He says abolitionists are pursuing “an evil course” meddling in the affairs of others, and he accuses abolitionists of being intolerant of slaveholders’ “spiritual liberty.”

Why do you think the R.E. Lee Monumental Association doesn’t quote Lee in full?

Could it be they fear we’d think of Lee as a big ole loser?

He was.

Plus, he lost the war.

Jarvis DeBerry is deputy opinions editor for NOLA.COM | The Times-Picayune. He can be reached at jdeberry@nola.com or at twitter.com/jarvisdeberry.

It Was ‘A Necessity For Ruling Class To Assassinate’ Fred Hampton
https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201712051059697547-fred-hampton-anniversary-black-panther-party-assassination/
Black Panther Party At California Capitol

It Was ‘A Necessity For Ruling Class To Assassinate’ Fred Hampton

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Forty-eight years ago Monday, Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, was killed by the Chicago Police Department at the behest of the FBI.

Described by Noam Chomsky as “the greatest domestic crime of the Nixon administration,” the assassination took place at roughly 5 a.m. when 14 police officers raided Hampton’s apartment and fired off dozens of bullets. Along with Hampton, Mark Clark, a party leader, was shot dead, while several others received bullet wounds.

​Also in the bullet-ridden apartment was Deborah Johnson, Hampton’s eight-month-pregnant fiance who barely managed to escape with her life.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary, Marshall Eddie Conway, a former Black Panther member and political prisoner, says Hampton’s ability to mobilize people is what “made him a very detrimental person in terms of the perils that be and the government.”

“It was just a necessity for the ruling class to assassinate him, not only that, but he was also very, very, young so he appealed to the young generation and so on and that in itself also was a threat,” Conway told show hosts Sean Blackmon and Eugene Puryear.

And yet, despite the years that have past, the relationship between the FBI and black movement campaigns haven’t exactly improved, notes Blackmon sardonically, pointing toward the Bureau’s recent report on so-called “black identity extremists.”

The report, titled “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers,” was written and posted online in August and names groups such as the Black Liberation Army, which hasn’t been active for years.Could this be a sign that the agency “is sort of poised for a new wave of repression,” asks Blackmon.

Conway’s response? Yes.

“This black identity extremism doesn’t even designate particular groups, but it goes right across the black community to individual levels,” Conway said. “You can celebrate Kwanzaa and be considered a black identity extremist.”

For Conway, the situation is only going to continue to worsen until something changes.

Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for the same crime: report

Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for the same crime: report

Inmates put their hands behind their backs as they return to their dormitory from the cafeteria Sept. 21, 2011, at Richland Parish Detention Center southeast of Monroe.
Inmates put their hands behind their backs as they return to their dormitory from the cafeteria Sept. 21, 2011, at Richland Parish Detention Center southeast of Monroe.(File photo by Scott Threlkeld)

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2017/11/black_men_get_longer_prison_se.html

African-American men in the criminal justice system serve longer sentences than white men who commit the same crime, according to a new federal study reported by ABC News Friday (Nov. 17).

After a review of demographic data of the country’s prisons from 2012 to 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that sentences for black men are 19.1 percent longer than for white men. When the commission accounted for violence in an offender’s past, black men last year also received sentences that were 20.4 percent longer than their white peers.

“After controlling for a wide variety of sentencing factors, the Commission found that Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences than similarly situated White male offenders, and that female offenders of all races received shorter sentences than White male offenders,” the report stated.

The full ABC News report can be read online.

A Tribute to Claudia Jones

 

A TRIBUTE TO CLAUDIA JONES

Thursday 26 October 7pm

Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU

Book tickets here http://tinyurl.com/yamdq2jj

  • Claudia Webbe, Islington Councillor and member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee in the Chair
  • Winston Pinder, friend of Claudia, on Claudia’s life as socialist, organiser and writer
  • Meirian Jump, Archivist & Library Manager, on Claudia’s archives at the MML

Claudia Jones (1915-1964) was a political activist and tireless anti-racist campaigner. Her activity as a member of the Communist Party USA – during a period of McCarthyite attacks on the left in America – led to her imprisonment and deportation in 1955. She moved to the UK where she was instrumental in founding the Notting Hill Carnival in 1959 and established the first major black British newspaper The West Indian Gazette. She was an inspirational speaker, addressing numerous peace and trade union meetings. At her funeral in 1965 Paul Robeson gave the following tribute ‘It was a great privilege to have known Claudia Jones. She was a vigorous and courageous leader of the Communist Party of the United States, and was very active in the work for the unity of white and coloured peoples and for dignity and equality, especially for the Negro people and for women’.

 

Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School

37a Clerkenwell Green
Marx Memorial Library
London
EC1R 0DU
United Kingdom
Experts: Impact of ongoing NFL protests unclear

https://news.cgtn.com/news/3163444e78597a6333566d54/share.html

Experts: Impact of ongoing NFL protests unclear

Sports
CGTN
10073km to Beijing

2017-09-29 18:21 GMT+8

‍Almost a year after then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality, similar protests swept the National Football League (NFL) and are set to continue, with experts describing the past week as one of the most significant displays of athlete activism in decades, but doubts about the long-term impact remain.

More than 150 NFL players – mostly African-American – chose to kneel or sit during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner on Sunday in an unprecedented protest following a tirade by President Donald Trump.

Trump created an uproar in America’s most popular sport by attacking players who symbolically refused to stand during the national anthem in an effort to draw attention to racial injustice.

Members of the Detroit Lions take a knee during the playing of the national anthem on September 24, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. /AFP Photo

The US leader’s remarks were widely condemned by NFL chiefs and billionaire team owners — several of whom had donated to Trump’s election campaign — before the players staged their day of action.

Yet as a fresh round of NFL games kick off this week, it remains unclear whether last Sunday’s protests will gather momentum or slowly fizzle out. Some players who knelt last weekend have already said they do not plan to repeat the protest. Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn said his protest was intended as a riposte to Trump’s remarks.

“I’m not going to do it again next week,” he told reporters. “I didn’t want to do it this week. This all had to do with President Trump’s comments.”

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews meanwhile said he would continue to kneel “until the president apologizes.” The Green Bay Packers have urged fans to link arms in solidarity when they face the Chicago Bears in what is intended to be a “display of unity.”

US President Donald Trump reacts at the White House in Washington DC, US September 27, 2017. /Reuters

The mixed messages have created debate about the long-term effectiveness of the protests.

Losing the meaning?

For some analysts the meaning of the demonstrations has been lost.

Trump has reframed the debate as a question of patriotism, accusing those players who choose to kneel or sit as being disrespectful of the military and the United States.

Orin Starn, a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University who has written about sports and society, sees the protests as continuing a tradition of activism started by black athletes in the 1960s.

“There’s a thread connecting Tommy Smith and John Carlos in 1968 to what we saw on Sunday — black athletes using sport to protest racial injustice, to say to America that it doesn’t have its racial house in order,” Starn told AFP.

Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick (R) of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem in 2016. /AFP Photo

Starn is uncertain though how effective the NFL protests will be in the long-term, suggesting that the opposing viewpoints in the latest round of America’s culture wars remain too deeply entrenched.

“About such a pivotal matter for American culture like racism and police brutality, people already have their opinions,” Starn said. “I doubt many minds have been changed one way or the other by this weekend or by Kaepernick’s initial, courageous protest.”

“This is a divided country. One part of it thinks that African-Americans have been given too many breaks; the other, a big segment of America, thinks we have real problems with racism and police brutality and wants to do something about it. But it is not clear to me that the status quo is changing.”

Going to ‘next step’

Members of Arizona Cardinals link arms during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. /AFP Photo

Mary-Frances Winters, who heads The Winters Group, a consulting firm which specializes in diversity and inclusion programs, praised the protests as “symbolic.”

“But now it needs to go the next step,” she told AFP. “People need to sit down and have a proper dialogue. When you look at history, people who are protesting are often persecuted. It’s not until 50 years later that they are viewed differently.”

Winters agreed that the point of Kaepernick’s original protest — launched in response to several killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement who subsequently received little or no punishment — has been forgotten.

“There is a misunderstanding what this is about,” she said. “It’s not about the flag, it’s not about the anthem — it’s about racial inequities.

Indianapolis Colts players kneel during the playing of the National Anthem before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium. /Reuters Photo

“If you look at the history of our country, we’ve always had protesters who love their country but who also see the flaws in their country and simply want the country to be better.”

Starn, meanwhile, was uncertain about the significance of the number of team owners who joined players linking arms, noting that there appeared to be a division on racial lines between players kneeling and those who chose to stand.

“They (the owners) were linking arms with the players — but they were linking arms with the players who were not kneeling,” Starn said. “There seemed to be a pretty clear racial divide. I didn’t see many white players kneeling.”

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Source(s): AFP