Equality is not reactionary

Matthew Wallace | Staff Writer

Equality is not just a series of actions, but rather a constantly evolving process, in which the goal is for everyone to be treated equally as society changes and grows.

When you are reactionary, you become what happened over the weekend. The NFL turned a protest about the killing and inequities black Americans face into a moment about “friendship” and “unity”—even when that unity has been missing for one of their own since last year (No matter how many arms they link, those owners still aren’t signing Colin Kaepernick, but they’ll gladly donate millions to an orange septuagenarian). A protest against how minorities are treated by their own country was turned into a marketing campaign by a football league that continually forgives domestic abusers, ignores the damage done to players’ brains and still has a team named after a slur used against Native Americans (Looking at you, Washington Redskins).

There are those who want a refuge from the depressive and overwhelming world, and many choose sports as their safety bubble. The black players are called ungrateful because they are “allowed” to play a game and be rich, while the overwhelmingly white owners “earned” their wealth. Here’s a tip to save you time; if you hear that argument, you automatically know it is the color of the protestors’ skin that bothers them instead of what or how they are protesting. The owners want a safe space but fight against safe spaces for minorities. The world’s problems do not matter to them because the world has never seen them as the problem. Protesting is an annoyance—until their rights are violated. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can put someone on the other side of a taxpayer-funded murder weapon. The color of your skin will not matter to those in power. When that happens, no one will be there to defend your rights because you did not care to defend the rights of your fellow Americans. Everyone needs to join this juggernaut of a task in order to ensure real, lasting and positive change.

But why protest the flag? Doesn’t it represent the soldiers who protect our freedom? Don’t those who protest any part of America know that it makes them “un-American?” In reality, however, the American flag itself is not being protested but rather the injustices being done against the ideals it represents. The flag means something different to everyone. I see stars that represent the land that was stolen from Native Americans, Mexicans and Native Hawaiians by white men who did it because not they decided not to take a stand, not to be decent human beings. I see the blood of millions of slaves that 11 states fought their own families for, just to keep them from being seen as humans. I see the immigrants who came from across the world to start a better life, only to be treated as second class citizens because they weren’t the right kind of white. I see a country that finally decided—less than 100 years ago—that women were equal enough to be allowed to vote. But, most importantly, I also see a country built on hope. I see a country that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I see a country where the first amendment guarantees people the right to protest the country itself and to not have to worry about government retribution. I see a deeply flawed nation that has destroyed so much in the name of greed but which constantly evolves in order to fix the inequalities at its core.

So, when you see law enforcement, who so violently want to oppress freedom of speech that they harm undercover cops, treat students, veterans, journalists, and even children, know that it will not get better quickly. It will not get better quietly. It will not get better by protesting the right way, because there is no right way, especially for African-Americans. If that is still confusing, late-night TV host Trevor Noah summed it up perfectly, “It’s wrong to do it in the streets, It’s wrong to do it in the tweets; You cannot do it on the field, You cannot do it if you’ve kneeled; And don’t do it if you’re rich, You ungrateful son of a b—-; Because there’s one thing that’s a fact, You cannot protest if you’re black.”

Some people will always be upset by protests, and usually, they’re the ones who the protest is about. Know that it will not get better when you leave after your time at Washington University. Inequality, hatred, sexism, bigotry, ignorance and racism—yes, racism—know no bounds. They do not care about where you go, what you do, who you are or who you love. These evils won’t be solved with a thought and a prayer; instead, they will be solved with a continuous, inclusive and passionate effort.

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