NFL legend Mike Ditka may have had the worst take of all time this week when he said, “There has been no persecution in the last 100 years that I know of.”
The former coach-and-four and superstar tight end of the Chicago Bears appeared on Jim Gray’s national radio prove ahead of Monday Night Football, Oct. 9 to talk football, protests, and apparently his rudimentary knowledge of American history. Gray even tried to help Ditka out of the hole he excavates for himself, quoting the social activism of athletes like Muhammed Ali and Jesse Owens. Instead, Ditka doubled down( emphasis added ):
“I don’t know what social injustices[ there] have been. Muhammad Ali rose to the top. Jesse Owens is one of the classiest people that ever lived. I mean, you can say,’ Are you( saying) everything is based on color? ’ I don’t see it that way. I think that you have to be colouring blind in this country. You’ve got to look at a person for what he is and what he stands for and how he produces , not by the color of his skin. That has never had anything to do with anything . ”
The colour of someone’s scalp has never had anything to do with anything . Let me put that in bold so you can really assure the foolishness of this take: The colour of someone’s skin has never had anything to do with anything .
Well, Mike Ditka, I’ve got some news for you. There has, in fact, been oppression against people of color in the last 100 years.
Lynchings, Jim crow laws, the war on medications, mass incarceration, the 1994 crime bill, gentrification, gerrymandering, ICE raids, police shootings, and more. But hey. I get it. How could we expect person like Mike Ditka to recall a century’s worth of discrimination, hatred, and bigotry, what with all those concussions he( likely) incurred, coupled with the insular world wealthy white men of advanced age tend to create for themselves.
Ditka and his ilk may feign ignorance about the history of this country, but their willful ignorance doesn’t erase the systemic persecution happening right this second.
So if 100 years is too much to consider, here are nine examples of oppression against people of color from the last 100 days .
And, frankly, most of these are from the past month. Just because it’s not happening to you, doesn’t mean it’s not happening . Take a seat, Ditka. I’m about to fell some knowledge.
1. The public skewering of Jemele Hill
ESPN journalist Jemele Hill was suspended from the network over tweets calling out Jerry Jones for threatening to fire any players who kneel during the national anthem. She’s been publicly attacked by the president, who she called a white supremacist. Meanwhile, Hank Williams Jr. was recently invited back to ESPN after seemingly likening President Obama to Hitler and outright calling him “the enemy.”
2. Terror and anxiety in Charlottesville
White supremacists terrorized the college township of Charlottesville, Virginia, the weekend of Aug. 11 -1 3. They brought illuminated tiki torches and weapons and marched menacingly — supposedly to protect the city’s Confederate monument. Counter-demonstrators came out to protest the presence of hate groups and intimidation in their community. A black man viciously attacked at the rally was lately arrested because he allegedly injured one of his attackers during the brawl( presumably in self-defense ). When asked about the violence and uproar in Charlottesville, President Trump said there was “blame on both sides.”
3. Destruction is met with heartlessness in Puerto Rico
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Most people on the island are still without water or energy. The chairman criticized the mayor of San Juan for her “poor leadership, ” then he took his time getting furnishes and resources to residents and threw newspaper towels into the crowd. His government also briefly hid data about the recovery attempt.
4. The relentless river of anti-Muslim rhetoric and vandalism
In the last month, there have been acts of anti-Muslim vandalism in Farmville, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; Bellingham, Washington; Raleigh, North Carolina; and more. 2017 is on track to be one the worst years ever for anti-Muslim hate crimes.
5. The co-opting of the NFL protest against inequality
Kneeling during the national anthem began as a silent route to protest police violence and inequality against against black and brown people. Athletes and fans choosing to kneel have been met with racial slurs, death threats, and threats to their employment. A black fan seated during the course of its anthem at a pre-season Lakers game was reportedly attacked by two white girls. At the same time, Terrelle Pryor, a black NFL player, says he was called the n-word so much during a game, he had to have an NFL employee step in to assist .( In example you’re curious, he didn’t kneeling during the anthem, but maybe he should have ).
6. Dove’s careless advertisement that centered white beauty ahead of everything else
This ad from Dove, which appeared on Instagram, depicts a black woman removing her shirt and skin to expose a white girl underneath. Think of all the people who had to OK this before it got to Instagram. Now ask yourself why so many people thought it was OK to dismiss black women in that style, to dismiss how the ad could be seen as portraying black women as dirty, unworthy, or not beautiful?
7. America’s dangerous preoccupation with memorializing the Confederacy
New monuments to the Confederacy have been planned and built, even in Union states. This is not a celebration of history. It’s intimidation and propaganda. Or to put it another way: persecution.
8. The legitimization of Roy Moore
Roy Moore is the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama. Real talk: He’s an anti-Muslim, homophobic asshole who seems to enjoy terrorizing marginalized people. And he’s favored to win.
9. The acquittal of Jason Stockley
In 2011, St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley shot Anthony Lamar Smith five times. While in pursuit of Smith’s vehicle, Stockley said, “we’re killing this motherfucker, don’t you know.” Stockley didn’t apply wound-care even though another officer on the scene testified that Smith appeared alive. Stockley may have planted a handgun in Smith’s car. What does this “re going to have to” do with the last 100 days? Well, Stockley was find not guilty of murder on Sept. 15, 2017. For weeks, people have taken to the streets of St. Louis to protest the verdict and demand justice for Smith.
OK, Ditka, step aside for a second. Time to talk to the people ready to do something about willfully ignorant people like you.
Just like oppression itself, willfully ignorant people are common and dangerous. They don’t understand that “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is not a solution. It’s a myth. This is especially true if you don’t have boots( figurative or literal) to start with.
“I mean, I don’t watch all this, the social injustice that some of these people ensure. I don’t. I know my father run in a steel mill and he brought home a paycheck and we ate dinner every night together. We didn’t have anything, but we didn’t need anything because we had a family. That was a good time in America. I would like to see us get back to that.”
Ditka was 10 years old in 1949. WWII had just aimed four years earlier and Brown v. Board of Education wouldn’t rule to integrate schools for another five years. So it’s safe to say that wasn’t a great time for everyone in America — only people who seemed a lot like Ditka .
That’s why people like him are so dangerous. They simply don’t ensure the animosity, intolerance, and systemic oppression that our country was built on. And if they can’t see it, they will do absolutely nothing to stop it, and they could use their privilege and power to build matters worse.
What can you do about it? Speak up.
We all know a Ditka: Someone who merely doesn’t get onto and merely doesn’t wishes to. Don’t let them off the hook. Don’t stay silent. Have those tough conversations. Call them out on their BS. Hit them with facts, figures, and the truth. Speak out against acts of oppression, and supporting candidates and companies that do the same.
Because whether it comes from a windbag of a football coach-and-four( sorry, Bears fans) or your dear old aunt, willful ignorance is willful ignorance. And if we want to dismantle systemic persecution, dropping knowledge is a damn good place to start.
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