Wealthy Black people owe no allegiance to capitalism or ameriKKKa, because it’s the system and it’s white people who benefit by far the most from their talent, their work– and their wealth.
After all, it’s the wealth of Africans/Black people that goes into white-controlled banks and other bourgeois institutions, making rich white people even richer. As wealthy as Oprah is, think of how much more wealth she has created for capitalism through advertising, publishing and the investments that she has made in white-controlled businesses, as well as the taxes she has paid. And as powerful as President Obama is, his extraordinary leadership abilities and brilliance have benefited Wall Street and white bourgeois politicians the most.
So when it comes to a professional athlete like Colin Kaepernick, it’s the cartel of the NFL that has benefited the most from his career, along with the sponsors and the white-controlled media. Colin Kaepernick has used his considerable talents of leading a team, throwing a football and running between white lines to make a lot more money for capitalism than he has ever made for himself. Under other circumstances, Kaepernick could have used these talents to lead a guerrilla unit, to throw a hand grenade, or to outrun the enemy, as part of a struggle that would benefit all oppressed people. We can’t blame him for doing otherwise because the circumstances or conditions were not ripe for revolution. But the point here is that capitalism exploited Colin Kaepernick’s gifts and work, not because it was doing any favors for him, but because it was profitable.
White people get mad when we think successful Black people (in a system where success means money) are acting ungrateful. But we’re so ungrateful for an empire that masses of colonized Africans built for whites, we won’t even pay them the reparations we owe.
This is a country that rewards people for being selfish, but even if Colin Kaepernick were being selfish (he’s actually being the opposite), the white reaction to him makes it clear that whenever a wealthy Black person starts speaking their own mind, suddenly it’s not about that ol’ individual American can-do, know-how spirit, it’s about allegiance to a system. This is because, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know power and wealth are always a question of a class structure within a system, not just individual hard work, talent and vision.
Colin Kaepernick owes no loyalty to the capitalist system, or to the flag that represents it, because, from the start, the rules were set up to exploit his work, talent and vision for the greater benefit of capitalism. Otherwise, a woman cleaning toilets faster and more thoroughly than anyone else would be getting endorsements from corporations and would be shown doing her job on TV every weekend. Who decides which kind of work is more valuable? The white-controlled ruling class.
Wealthy Black people are also oppressed by ameriKKKa because (among other reasons) white people think they don’t deserve this success, and somehow owe the system for what they’ve earned. If you’re a “mediocre” white person (no human being is actually mediocre, only the system that unjustly elevates them) and you’re not that smart, not that athletic, not that funny, not that hardworking, not that artistic and not that imaginative, then, no, you don’t deserve a spot in the line ahead of people of color who are any one or all of these things.
Whites fall out of bed in the morning and expect to have the world handed to us. And why not, when this system is set up to do just that? But the same people who hate Colin Kaepernick for being “privileged” are probably voting for Donald Trump, who had everything handed to him at birth. They also probably couldn’t survive two plays at the quarterback position in the NFL.
The “American flag” and “The National Anthem” aren’t really the issue here because, if white people had historically suffered from this system in the same way as people of color have, we would be the first to ditch this flag and this song. It’s just easier for us to feel warm-and-fuzzy about ameriKKKa’s symbols because, in materialist terms, whites benefit the most from the actual system– at the expense of oppressed Africans/Black people, Indigenous peoples and the majority of humanity. It’s easy to be patriotic and sentimental about a lousy song when the material benefits gained from the imperialist military’s aggression against the world, as well as murderous police departments at home, are distributed primarily among whites.
So it’s not really disrespect toward the song we’re in a frenzy about, or the flag, it’s the potential threat to our elevated lifestyle that we fear whenever a member of the colonized class refuses to stand up (or bow down) in gratitude to “America” for … what? Perhaps for not being murdered by this system, like the military and police are sent to do every day in order to materially benefit whites.