What’s American Anyways?

In the past week, we saw the resurrection and death of another GOP healthcare bill, as well as massive failures across the board for the Trump administration in terms of focus and constructive action.

One obvious example of the discord is yet another social media war launched by the President, with tweets railing against the NFL. The rising political consciousness of athletes has been  assailed since former quarterback Colin Kaepernick  began a peaceful on-field protest a year ago. Some of the loftier discussions involve definitions of what constitutes patriotism. The Trumpbots advocate blind allegiance to tradition, with minimal consideration of different sociopolitical experiences of our country. Others view Kapernick’s kneeling as an expression of First Amendment rights designed to advocate change.

What does it mean to be American? The saying goes that actions speak louder than words, and the public and the office of President have been tested to back up their patriotism – with trial by fire, rain and torrential winds. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters have recently devastated states, territories, and communities.

Trump and his America have failed to be inclusive in their support of crisis operations. In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Texas is slowly on the path to recovery and the Florida Keys are opening up next week for tourism, despite 25 percent of homes being destroyed. News of progress has been muted, eclipsed by other trending topics, including the devastation of non-mainland American territories.

Texas and Florida have electricity and supplies. Puerto Rico does not. It took nearly a whole week for public outcry to turn into a collective roar, demanding that Donald Trump and his administration take action, rather than ignore the increased degradation of daily life for Puerto Ricans.

I’m sure your social media, news feeds and offline conversations have been filled with both NFL news and hurricane updates. But we need more media clarity regarding exactly who is being most negatively affected by the indifference: those whose skin tone is not found on the same color swatch as Mr. Trump (although in fairness, there aren’t many orange people).

It’s no secret that America has a race and “othering” problem. This administration is attacking sexual assault victims, non-christian religions, and pre-emptively filing waivers for the Jones Act in areas that support Trump and house his default residence.  Meanwhile, leadership held off on filing for a ravaged area full of brown people.

It’s time to hold authorities responsible and accountable for their lethal biases. People are dying from inaction and insufficient support. To be American isn’t a complexion, blind obedience to a ritual or speaking Midwestern English. Americanism used to mean welcoming and protecting freedoms, taking care of our citizens in times of crisis. It’s a shame that the occupant of the nation’s highest office needs constant reminders.


Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories


We are doing things differently for this week’s Missing in Action roundup. We must. There’s something nefarious that has been obvious for too long, and our team needs to speak out. What we know is that terror suspects like Dylan Roof and Ahmad Rahami have been taken alive by authorities, even after posing an immediate threat, shooting at police (in Rahami’s case). What’s the disparity? Skin color.

There is a stark difference between being black in America and being anyone else – race, creed or color – when it comes to application of the law. Unarmed African American men (and women like Sandra Bland) have lost their lives under the most specious of circumstances. Why should black Americans’ right to life be devalued? Why should these citizens encounter civil rights violations that place them below terror suspects? It seems unthinkable. But we can’t hide from the truth. The evidence is in Chicago, Charlotte, St. Louis, New York and anywhere else black lives are taken.

In spite of all the tragedy, the feelings of hopelessness and fear and outrage, there are many people and organizations taking positive steps toward change. We want to share some of those with you, and encourage you to share this post. This conversation – and these type of actions – MUST continue.

  • Comedian Daniel Weingarten posted a video on his Facebook page that speaks for many white Americans who feel strongly that #BlackLivesMatter. He covers a lot in the 3 minute and 26 second stream, prompted by the shooting death of Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma earlier this week. He shuts down the weak rhetoric from those who say no one protests so-called “black on black murders.” He explains why Colin Kaepernick is doing important work and why we as a nation must do better. There’s no alternative. This really is must-see TV.
  • The NBA is showing its collective conscience and its desire to be an agent of change. This week the league issued a memo to players saying they plan to expand upon the steps many individual players have already taken to help and support their communities in light of the violence epidemic. They are the only professional sports organization to commit in writing on such a large scale.
  • Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman used a press conference this week to speak out about the shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Without naming names, he expressed frustration with those who are against Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem, saying “people are still missing the point.” Indeed, there was far more publicized outrage over Kaepernick’s silent protest than there was for Terence Crutcher, shot by a police officer while unarmed with his hands in the air. Is the media partially to blame for this double standard? Maybe. And we thank Sherman for challenging journalists to tell the whole truth.
  • In the “news we never thought we’d share” bucket, Glenn Beck wrote something decent and human earlier this month. Put his general brand of intolerance and bullshit aside for a minute, click the hyperlink and just read these important observations. It was hard for us too, but we did it. You should too. As Beck observed, “We are a country in trouble, and we have only one way out: reconciliation.” We must work together to resolve this crisis. That’s really the point, isn’t it? People from all sides, all party lines, all races, all genders simply have to come together, listen and save lives.

For the record, this site’s namesake will no longer be standing for the National Anthem until the problem of African American extra-judicial killing is ended. She has purchased a #BlackLivesMatter t-shirt and will wear it to meetings with local legislators. And the BeckySarwate.com Team will continue to write about the variety of issues and voices involved in this rampant social injustice. It’s the very least we can do.