The Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) published an open letter to former football player and full-time racial grievance-monger Colin Kaepernick on Monday. This letter, while being a gentle nudge in the right direction for the young activist, is also a wake-up call for the left: Americans are tired of meaningless political grandstanding.
The letter, signed by Rev. William Owens, rehashes the Betsy Ross flag debacle, during which Kaepernick encouraged Nike to pull its planned roll out of a patriotic sneaker just in time for Independence Day.
Dear Mr. Kaepernick,
Recently, you may have heard that our organization, the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), has criticized your political positions. You may even be aware that CAAP launched a petition urging Nike to sever its business relationship with you in light of your disapproval of the planned Besty Ross flag shoe.
Given this background, you might assume that I hold some hostility or ill-will toward you. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Reverend notes that Kaepernick’s passion for change and betterment is quite real, but the way he is directing it has thus far been counter-productive.
“I recognize that you believe you are taking a stand for something important,” he concedes. “As someone who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the American civil rights movement, I respect your passion. I’m only asking that your give more consideration to how that passion is expressed.”
“Whatever your intent, the effect of your protests and comments regarding the American flag has been to persuade millions of your countrymen that you hold this nation in contempt,” Owens explained. “From there, it is logical to conclude that you also despise the people who love America despite its flaws. Some of these people have even fought and died for this country.”
The letter goes on to admit that America has made some mistakes in the past, but that doesn’t make it a country beyond redemption – beyond improvement. It doesn’t mean that we should only be recognized by our flaws and missteps, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we were not and are not a great country.
Then Owens gets to the meat of it; a come to Jesus moment – if you will – for the aspiring change-maker.
Which leads me to your passion for making the world better. As I wrote earlier, I’m impressed by your dedication to change. However, I urge you to pour your energy into the kind of change that will directly help African-Americans (and all Americans).
If you look at what ails our community, you’ll see that opportunity and education continue to be major issues for black Americans. As a successful and educated black man, you could use your influence to help young men appreciate the importance of a degree. You could promote entrepreneurship and businesses in African American communities. You could help lobby for prison reform or bring attention to health care access, job loss related to illegal immigration, and disparities in health care.
In short, there are many, many ways that you could focus your efforts on change that will have a real, measurable effect on the African American community. Getting involved on that level would separate you from the celebrities who express their activism through microphones, galas, and keyboards.
Owens ends the letter by extending an olive branch to Kaepernick, telling him that the door is always open if the former football player feels like meeting up in person and discussing the matter further.
Unfortunately, celebrity activism is more rewarding than perpetuating actual change in troubled communities. Screaming about injustice is more financially viable than seeking out real ways to end injustice. Picking up a microphone is better for pictures than picking up a homeless mother in need of shelter for her children. Blasting “racism” as the root of all of America’s evils is easier than sitting down with community leaders and finding out what resources they need to build better lives for their fellow citizens. Because we as a country do more to reward loud mouths than working hands, we will continue to see more Kaepernicks to the detriment of struggling communities across the nation.
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