Readers Write: A time to face social injustices in U.S.

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1. Does anyone remember the movie, “A Time to Kill,” based on the John Grisham novel?

It takes place in Mississippi. A black man is on trial for shooting two white men who raped his daughter. It wasn’t really that good a movie (in my opinion), but some of the performances and some of the scenes were quite good.

The closing argument by Jake Tilly, a young white lawyer, (Matthew McConaughey) in defense of Carl Lee Haley (Samuel L Jackson) was really quite good.

The jury was all white. There was no chance a white jury was going to acquit a black man of murdering two white men in the south.

But in his closing argument Tilly asked the jury to close their eyes and listen to a story, the story of a little girl (he did not say little black girl) who is abducted by two men and he goes through the entire ordeal that Haley’s daughter endured, slowly and in detail.

When he finishes the story he says now pretend this little girl is white!

All the jurors’ eyes pop wide open. And of course, Haley is acquitted.

2. I am Jewish. I live in Great Neck. It’s a great little town.

I am fortunate to have a good job and make a decent living. I have never experienced any form of discrimination because of my religion.

But if a neo Nazi group wanted to have a parade down Middle Neck Road, I would sure as hell be there protesting even though I have never experienced religious persecution.

I would be protesting for those who had experienced discrimination based on their religious beliefs and I would be protesting to make sure that the issue would not be swept under the rug.

I would be protesting so that the issue would always be out there so people could work together to prevent further injustice to Jews and all other religions that have been persecuted.

3. When I go to a sporting event, I stand for the national anthem and I actually sing it.

If I am wearing a hat, I take it off and put it over my heart. I choose to express myself that way. I am thankful I live in this country and have the ability to express myself freely.

Let me also say that if the guy sitting in front of me or next to me sits for the national anthem, it’s okay. In this country, we are free to express ourselves in any way we wish (as long as it is legal), notwithstanding what the current POTUS may believe.

That’s what this country is all about.
What do a movie, a hypothetical protest and standing for the national anthem have in common?

Today (Nov. 3) was Colin Kaepernick’s 30th birthday. I saw it on a posting in Facebook.

For those of you who don’t know who Colin Kaepernick is, he is/was the black professional football player who kneeled during the national anthem last year.

As one would expect, there were quite a few comments; some were supportive of him, but most were not.

While I have no proof, I would bet my bottom dollar that responses broke down this way: Just about all African Americans, minorities and some whites supported Kaepernick; those critical of Kaepernick were just about all white.

Many of the negative comments were racist. Actually the vast majority of them were, though I would suggest that many of the people who posted racist comments were not aware they were racist.

Many of the negative comments stated that Kaepernick was an ungrateful and selfish SOB. Many said he was being disrespectful to the country, the flag, and servicemen and women who defend this country.
Kaepernick is neither ungrateful nor selfish. If he were, he would not have taken a knee for the national anthem knowing that it could potentially cost him millions of dollars in income and potentially get him blacklisted out of the league.

And in case you didn’t know, he graduated from the University of Nevada with a 4.0 average and is now prepping to go to graduate school.

Last year he donated $1 million of his salary to youth organizations in the San Francisco area. He is an articulate, well-spoken young man.
But that isn’t really significant in the grand scheme of things. This is not about Colin Kaepernick.
This is about the United States — our country; it is about race relations in the United States; it is about black and white.
The real issue/question is why do just about all black people view Kaepernick’s form of protest acceptable and honorable, yet very few (if any) black people and so many white people view his actions as being disrespectful.

And the answer is simple as black and white. White people are not black.

Why do so many white people not see kneeling as a way of protesting social injustice and racism? Because they are white.

In “A Time To Kill,” Jake and Carl Lee are in Carl Lee’s jail cell the night before closing arguments at the trial and Jake is telling Carl Lee that he is going to lose the case.

Carl Lee tells Jake that he is one of “them” and implores Jake to think about what it would take him, as a white person sitting in the jury box, to find Carl Lee not guilty.
Why is it okay for me to protest a Neo Nazi rally (actually, maybe it isn’t according to the POTUS), but not okaty for Kaepernick to protest social injustice to blacks?

Because the national anthem is being played and the American flag being proudly displayed?

Doesn’t the flag represent freedom, the freedom to express one’s views?

Isn’t that what our servicemen and women are defending? Has anyone who has taken a knee said they are protesting the flag, or the country or our servicemen or they hate the United States?

No, they are protesting social injustice and many white people can’t see it that way because they are not black.
Does that make white people bad? Of course not; it just means that white people need to try to understand where black people are coming from and, just as importantly, black people need to see where white people are coming from.

That is not accomplished by building walls and banning people. That is not accomplished by divisive rhetoric.

Without dialogue, meaningful dialogue, and a willingness to step into the shoes of a group that has been persecuted, things will not get any better.

Just because I have not experienced social injustice, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
A friend of mine recently lost his house and all of his personal belongings in the fires out in California. In talking with other friends, we kept saying that we couldn’t imagine what it must be like to lose everything in a matter of hours.

But just because we couldn’t imagine or hadn’t been through it, that didn’t prevent me and others from feeling compassion for our friend. Why is it not possible to feel compassion for blacks who have experienced social injustice?

Is it because the man who brought the issue to the forefront has made millions of dollars playing football and decided to express his views during the playing of the national anthem? Is it because he chose a forum to express his views that made people feel uncomfortable? Is it because he is black?
I wonder what would have happened if Tom Brady took a knee during the national anthem and said he thinks that there is social injustice in this country and everyone needs to be aware that it exists.

My guess it would be ok because he is the greatest quarterback to play the game. He would not be attacked and blacklisted out of the NFL.

But what would have happened if Josh McCown took a knee. I suspect the response would not be much different than the Brady response. What would have happened if a white quarterback raised this issue? My guess is nothing.
The bottom line is that social injustice exists in the United States (not limited to blacks of course) and cannot and should not be swept under the rug.

People need to get together and work on improving our country. We live in the United States of America. Not the White States of America. Or the National Football League of America.

For owners and Papa John to complain that the protests are hurting the image of the NFL and pizza sales, my response is too bad.

There are more important things in life than image and money.

Stuart Dolgin

Great Neck

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