Dolphins running back Arian Foster talks National Anthem

Aug 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Star Wars characters stand on the field for the National Anthem before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Star Wars characters stand on the field for the National Anthem before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not often that Arian Foster of the Miami Dolphins talks at length about anything with the media but he talked quite candidly about his opinion of Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem boycott.

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These are some tepid waters that we are walking in and honestly, I wasn’t sure if I should tackle the topic or not. Our writer Dan Heaning took a stab at the Kaepernick fury and you can read that here.

The issue at hand is twofold. There is respecting the American Flag and showing respect for the National Anthem, and then there is the racial undertones of Kaepernick’s boycott.  Both have been an issue of late.

During the Olympics Gabby Douglas felt the ire of Americans when she refused to place her hand over her heart. Standing at attention is usually reserved for members of the military when out of uniform.

Speaking with the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the often quiet Foster had more than enough to say on the issue.

"“I don’t necessarily see that as a solution to anything,” Foster said. “This is me talking. This is Arian talking. If that’s what he felt, that’s his form of protest, I support his right to protest. Those are his thoughts, his opinions.” Foster said regarding why he would not sit during the playing of the anthem."

Foster is very clear that he understands where Kaepernick is coming from and the message he is trying to convey. While Foster says he will not sit, Adam Gase doesn’t appear to have an issue with any player who does.

"“Every guy’s got their position on certain things,” Gase said. “They’re able to express it in certain ways. There’s nothing that says they can’t do that. Our guys in our locker room, if they have certain stances they stand behind, then it’s not my right to say you can’t do that.” Gase told the Miami Herald."

Here is where it get’s to be a fine line. I am white. Have I been harassed by police? No. Not to the degree that others of a different color or nationality have. Have I been subjected to racism or reverse-racism? Yes. Many times over and over.

That does not mean that I have felt the degree to which others of our African-American community have. I would never try to understate what racism really is because I can not walk in their shoes. Nor can I summarily discount that it doesn’t exist.

"African-Americans are the only people in America who don’t have a heritage, because of slavery, Foster said, then pointing out “We’re the descendants of genocide.”"

Those are strong words. As Foster explains his opinion he points out that some have said to “go back where you came from” and Foster points out that he has no idea where his lineage is.

"So when you say, ‘You can leave,’ where to? I don’t know where my people come from. Am I from the Congo? Am I from Kenya? Am I from the Ivory Coast? Foster said."

Arian Foster brings up a point that even I have not considered and that is the trickle down effect of 300 years of slavery and the effect that has had on generations.

Consider that the Emmancipation Proclimation was signed in 1863 and while “slavery” was abolished, our American brothers and sisters were kept segregated for another 100 years until 1964. Now consider that racial tension still ran through the South for another 20 years easily.
Our nation is less than 100 years, one single generation removed from segregation.

52 years to be exact. Again, one generation.  Slavery is by far the darkest part of our nations past and Foster’s point is generational.

"We’re taught to hate ourselves for generations. And people are just quick to say, ‘Get over it. Get over it. Slavery happened a long time ago.’ I grew up in a domestically violent household. There are effects that I grew up with and had to deal with emotional issues growing up with domestic violence in my house. That’s one generation removed. Now here’s 300 years of slavery, you’ve seen your people get people, have them told you aren’t anything. Written in laws that they’re three-fifths a human being for 300 years. You’re telling me there’s no psychological effects that won’t trickle down in your bloodline? Foster continued."

Sadly he is right. Racism is still alive in our country and whether you protest the killing of a black man by a police officer or sit when the anthem is played, nothing is going to change until we all change. All of us. Black and white.

While our nation stands divided in some ways the reality is that all lives matter and until we all, black, white, hispanic, asian, and so on believe that, nothing will change. It will only serve to deepen the gap between what was and what should be.

It will hold our progress back. The killings of any person black or other with out just cause or reason is wrong. Killing police officers out of revenge is just as wrong.

Someday, future generations will look back on these times and wonder what we were all thinking. There will be no African-Americans but only Americans and our nationalities won’t matter.

Arian Foster doesn’t know his lineage but I really don’t know mine either. I only know that I was born here in the United States and that I am a U.S. Citizen. Ask me what I am and I will tell you I’m an American.

An American who shares his life, his likes, his dislikes with every other American in this country. Black, white, or other. Until we no longer see the differences between us there will always be a difference between us.

As Arian Foster points out, it’s one or two generations removed and that too is on the other side as well. Far too many whites have seen the racism of their grandfathers and even their own fathers and mothers as well and they too learn far too often to hate or at the very least to question.

Today, I dropped my daughter off for her first day of 1st grade. She ran to her two best friends who are in her class. One is hispanic and the other is black. All three stood for the pledge of allegiance with their hands on their heart.

As precious as that moment was I realized that it will be the task of those children to forge a nation that has no biases, no racial opinions, and that it is our jobs as parents to teach them that. Be it black or white, we have to change this for the future of our children.

It’s how we teach them that will determine how fast we become “One nation, under God, with liberties, and JUSTICE, FOR ALL”.