It’s almost as if Colin Kaepernick has given those in the sports realm the green light to express the frustration they may feel at the relentless (and avoidable) death of black people at the hands of police.
To wit, on Thursday evening, NFL commentator Shannon Sharpe passionately told his co-worker about his take on Kaepernick’s national-anthem controversy. Mixing it up with the always antagonistic Skip Bayless on Fox 1’s Undisputed, the former NFL star had some sharp words for his co-host, and some advice on what white folks can do to be allies: “Don’t tell us what to grieve for.”
Sharpe began by stating that black men who fought in World War II fought on foreign soil for freedom and then came home to face rampant discrimination (though it should be noted that African Americans have fought and died in every single war in this nation, including the Revolutionary War).
“I have a very unique perspective, Skip,” said Sharpe. “I’m from rural, South Georgia. I’m 48 years old.” He went on to say that though he grew up dirt-poor and is now wealthy, “The one thing I have been for 48 years is black.”
In terms of the current situation with black men and women being killed by police, he said that he saw a man in South Florida kill two people, stab a third and eat someone’s face, and yet he was taken alive.
“I see a [black] guy selling CDs, and he’s killed. I see a [black] guy selling loosie cigarettes, and he’s killed,” said Sharpe, his voice rising. “You see, that's what gets us up in arms. Because you say noncompliance is a death sentence. If a man is gnawing a man’s face after he’s killed two people? We see what happened in Colorado: the [white] guy killed 12, and they take him alive. We see what happened in Charleston: nine parishioners, and not only do they take [the white guy] alive, they take him to buy Burger King because he’s hungry. So you think we’re supposed to be OK with this?”
Bayless, who for once is not saying much, asked meekly, “How do we solve it?”
Sharpe responded that it “starts with us”: “This goes back 400 years; we’re not going to solve this in one or two years. But we have to acknowledge that this exists. Stop sweeping [racism] under the rug.”
Bayless said that he’s willing to do whatever he can as a white man to fix it.
And Sharpe came back with, “But don’t tell me [racism] is a figment of my imagination. And when we grieve, don’t tell us what to grieve for, and don’t tell us how long we should grieve. They don’t tell Jewish people that they should get over the Holocaust.”
Sharpe ended by laying down a warning if America doesn’t heed the message.
“Because this is what will happen: The peaceful protesters will try a peaceful route, like Colin Kaepernick sitting down or taking a knee. And then, when you won’t listen, we'll make you hear us,” said Sharpe. “You’ll have a Ferguson. You’ll have a Baltimore. Or, you’ll have a Watts in the ’60s. You don’t want that.”