The Colin Kaepernick Effect: How ‘Made in America’ is More Than Just a Designer Label or Stamp of Approval #HometownChat

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A simple way to describe my immigrant journey is “Born in Jamaica, Made in America.” This means at various times in the year you’ll find jerk chicken or fried turkey on my dinner table. I just haven’t been able to do the ‘afro thing.’ But I’ve come to learn how ‘Made in America’ is more than just a designer label.

As the NFL season got going many wondered out loud on social media about the Colin Kaepernick effect. His taking a stand might not be seen as a halo but it certainly isn’t hell either. Somewhere in between is a lesson for how ‘social labels’ prevent us from seeing through the fog of a culture clash to live higher.

There’s a certain sense of pride that comes with designer clothing labels. They can provide some with the feeling that they’ve got socio-economic status. But these labels might also be used in another way that could appear self-righteous or condescending. Maybe that’s some of what’s going on here because:

  1. History shows we sometimes see things through a prism of prejudice.
  2. Oftentimes a select few people get to experience things in a lane of privilege.
  3. We are distracted (fooled even) by believing things through a parade of ‘false promises.’

These days we have the Internet at our finger tips. Who knows, maybe human progress is taking us down a path where we’re becoming technological adept but socially inept. This could be part of Kaepernick’s message. But it’s also the scope of efforts to get prejudicial flaws out of the criminal justice system.

Interview with sister of Terence Crutcher

Prejudice seems to raise its ugly head in ways that affect the legal protection of African-Americans under the law. How else can we explain the unwarranted death of Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma. Think about how the social theory of ‘Broken Windows’ or Rockefeller drug laws unduly harmed urban communities?

These measures created a strain/stain for some but political/professional gain for others. Wearing the label ‘Made in America’ shouldn’t just be about padding our pocketbooks. It should open our eyes to these inequities, injustices and inconsistencies. This way we’re not looking down on others with prejudice.

If flawed laws are a leading force for fixing social ills, then that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface are other stories made possible out of privilege. Just think about Ryan Lochte being on Dancing with the Stars or Brock Turner who served little time for rape. This wouldn’t be possible for just anyone.

ryan-lochte

Social privilege could be a factor in what Kaepernick is trying to express. He’s lived in a bi-racial environment which allows him to connect with the privileged side of America. But he’s also seeing how others get left behind in the political games that stiff & stifle the less-privileged treated as second-class.

This may be why there’s a bubbling frustration across the country for how some past and present election campaigns make a joke of the process. So there’s a growing tide of ‘We the People’ turning into modern-day populism. But things seem to have gotten out of hand where it feels like Politics Gone Wild.

It’s like the beekeeper in charge of running a bee yard. Then an outsider comes in and stirs up the bee hive. Now the bees are distracted from working towards shared purpose. Instead they’re driven by shared chaos. That’s some of what has happened where citizens are being stirred-up by the buzz of chaos.

Have things become more of a race for ratings and a parade of false promises? That’s a self-starter question that will be on many minds between now and November. In between the halo and hell of this presidential campaign season is figuring-out whether what’s good for ratings is good for America’s reality.

Marvin Gaye once asked “What’s Going On?” Well, Kaepernick might not have everybody’s stamp of approval, but he could help spread shared purpose. Dr. King gave us shared purpose with the words ‘I Have a Dream.’ JFK did it with the goal of a moon landing. We can propel shared purpose by how we handle social issues, system flaws and pursue truth promises.

Groove-tracks: The Black Eyed Peas – Where’s the Love? –  https://youtu.be/YsRMoWYGLNA


John Legend ft The Roots & Melanie Fiona
– Wake Up Everybody – https://youtu.be/iJgxJ6JrPkc

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What the Olympic Games & Presidential Campaigns Say About The American Dream in ‘Spaghetti Gymnastic’ #HometownChat

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The America I’ve come to know isn’t quite the America I first knew. Some of this is from a false image of ‘streets paved with gold.’ Now that I’ve emigrated here for 35 years and seen the streets, I’ve come to my senses. So let me explain using a couple top stories from the Olympic Games & Presidential campaigns.

The dust hasn’t quite settled yet in Rio. Many athletes have returned home to big cheers. That wasn’t the case for Ryan Lochte who’s doing damage control. Meanwhile, the Presidential campaigns have been like a roller coaster of fact checking. So how do the Games & Campaigns jibe with the American Dream?

The Games were exciting. The Campaigns have been mind-blowing. This might seem absurd but who really feels Lochte was robbed? And who really thinks that the best way to handle immigration is to build a wall? What we’ve learned from these situations is the difference between straight-shoot and street truth.

As we look at the Olympics through the ‘media engine’ we see a commercial bonanza. But when we look through the social lens we might wonder about the ‘citizen effect.’ It is the citizen effect that tells us the street truth. For some communities the American Dream feels less like a commercial bonanza and more like ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ because:

  1. They feel like they’re competing against a system of inequities.
  2. They’re faced with setback after setback of event injustices.
  3. Their emotional sanity is challenged by repeated inconsistencies.

A recent report revealed American towns where local authorities use excessive enforcement to balance their books on the backs of citizens. The net result is a build-up of animosity and distrust. Then after a while the pressure cooker boils over into skirmishes and civic disturbances that catch officials by surprise.

olympics-rio

Much attention is given to what’s happening on Wall Street. It seems there’s so much on the line. Others are pretty concerned about Front Street in support of small businesses. But maybe the folks on Back Street USA feel left-out or overlooked. Maybe the word on those streets gets lost in ‘campaign hustle.’

Some might say building a wall is a closed-door old-school approach. Others might see it as a gated-community ‘Wall Street’ kind of solution. Either way, in local communities it’s seen as another way of speaking over or speaking around the real issues and not addressing chronic social injustices.

It’s hard to explain to those on Back Street why folks from the other side of the tracks can catch a break but they don’t. That’s how some people felt on social media regarding Lochte. If it wasn’t for video he would have been believed. But even with video, folks on Back Street USA get the short end of the stick.

These days political campaigns can put us through ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ in trying to separate straight-shoot from street truth. Yes, straight shoot might be unscripted and happening in ‘real time.’ But it pulls us in conflicting directions. Street truth is what Dr King gave us 53 years ago with ‘I Have a Dream.’

So while the American Dream is alive and well in Olympic stories, it feels out-of-reach for others. We celebrate those who made it to the biggest event on the world stage. But for folks whose streets aren’t paved in gold, there’s a potential disconnect with the Games, Political Campaigns and living in America.

Groove-tracks: James Brown – Living in America –  https://youtu.be/c5BL4RNFr58


Aerosmith
– Dream On – https://youtu.be/qzTZ76vhnKk