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Colin Kaepernick’s Intentions May Be Good, but is his Methodology Counterproductive?
Written by Andrew Brock | African-American Affairs Writer | Goombaytally.com | Contact us in the comment box | Share us on Facebook, Twitter
I love studying military history.
I especially enjoy reading through first-hand accounts of hard-fought battles that changed the course of a war. The Battle of Gettysburg, which helped advance the end to the Civil War. The intriguing Battle of the Bulge and D-Day during WWII. The impacts of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. To paraphrase strategic planners within the Department of Defense: plans are perfect right until they meet the point of execution.
Civil War history is full of stories describing Generals who made critical planning, logistical, navigational, or intelligence errors throughout the course of a battle and ultimately resulted in the engagement of the enemy at the wrong location, time, or level of preparedness. Mind you, these errors aren’t “always” operationally detrimental to the offensive or defensive army.
There are certainly accounts of military war planners or leaders making grave battlefield errors and inadvertently exposing a weakness within their adversary’s plan and consequently exploiting that weak point to their advantage. Obviously, these errors will inevitably expose even more of your weaknesses.
The point is, realistic military leaders understand that flexibility and adaptability is the key to modern warfare victory. They prepare their men and women to follow orders, but to also have the situational awareness and mental acuity to pivot during the execution phase if “Murphy” presents opposing variables that leave planning considerations non-relevant. All finished and polished plans look great neatly written on a whiteboard in the Pentagon. However, reality and the “Fog-o-War” has a way of dismantling the best made plans of Mice and Men.
Military battle plans must be designed with a specifically desired effect in mind. We destroy enemy ammunition plants to limit their resupply capacity. We target enemy aircraft sitting on airfields to neutralize their air defense capability … and so on. Some military strategic planners call these targets “centers of gravity” … because of their strategic impacts on the enemy’s war-fighting capabilities or strengths.
So the obvious question is: how do I make a coherent link between military strategy and San Fransisco 49ers’ quarterback, Colin Kaepernick who finds himself in the middle of a national debate surrounding his refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem at the beginning of NFL games as a public protest of social injustice within the African-American community?
Here it is.
I believe Colin Kaepernick is the wrong field general, targeting the wrong battle objectives, on the wrong battlefield. Let me explain: as an African-American who “has been” racially profiled in the past, has been called the “N-Word” as a kid growing up in the South, and who has experienced overt and subtle discrimination in this country, I think Colin is still woefully off-point in his methodology … not necessarily his intent.
Colin says he is protesting White oppression and social injustice … but unfortunately, he’s targeting the wrong “centers of gravity” that drive the issues. Much like an F-16 that attempts to take out an enemy communication command and control facility, but hits the school house right next to it instead and kills 30 innocent children.
Say goodbye to your “winning hearts and minds” campaign.
I recently told a colleague at work that Kaepernick’s decision to protest social injustice by sitting out on the national anthem was tantamount to protesting corruption in the banking industry by standing out in front of your local Chipotle with a sign that says, “Free Willy.” The wrong objective, strategy, timing, message, and venue.
First, and ironically, on 7 September 2016, the City of Chicago reported its deadliest Holiday weekend as 13 people were killed and a total of 65 inured in gun violence. Unfortunately, the Labor Day Weekend shootings in Chicago bolstered its annual homicide number to 500. Mind you, last year’s total was 491. Invariably, by the time you read this article, that number will be dated and old news.
Let these numbers sink in for just a minute. Close your eyes even.
Any other international relations conversation held around countless water coolers and coffee pots across America would not hesitate to refer to a city that experiences similar levels of senseless crime and violence as a “War Zone.”
Yes, Chicago is a War Zone. Even film director Spike Lee concedes that point in his film Chi-Raq.
As a military veteran who’s served enough time in Afghanistan and listened to countless intel briefings, I’ve seen less kinetic activity over a weekend in the darkest, dirtiest, most dangerous corners of Helmand Province than we’ve seen at times in a cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Chicago’s South Side — Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn might as well be Kabul, Bagram, Kandahar, or Khost.
Chicago is a War Zone. Even film director Spike Lee concedes that point in his film Chi-Raq.
But here’s the intellectual conflict.
There is seemingly no national outcry or call for rigorous Congressional efforts to stop the genocidal-like violence that African-Americans experience in this country’s urban battlefields.
A sweet, beautiful, four-year-old African-American little girl … innocently playing with her “Frozen” doll in front of her house, gets shot and killed instantly by a gang member who’s aiming for her uncle sitting on the porch because he disrespected him in front of a hot girl in the local club on the previous night … and the streets of Chicago are quiet following that tragedy. Oh well … right? For a story … more tragic and disconcerting as any we’ve seen related to this year’s (relatively) few African-American and Police shooting incidents … there are no professional athletes taking a knee for this little girl during the singing of the national anthem. Why not? Didn’t she experience a grave social injustice?
Moreover, “Civil Rights” activists don’t compel substantive national debate about the true “root cause” of the issues within the African-American community.
No one is (really) asking why African-Americans across this nation have to be afraid to walk the streets at night or have an event-free barbecue cookout without gun violence breaking out. That’s chiefly because we already know the answer–don’t we?
The unspoken narrative: Violence against African-Americans at the hands of a White person rips open painful, deep-seated wounds and tragic historical images and memories from America’s shameful racial past.
Conversely, black-on-black crimes violence … though exponentially more prevalent and significantly more deadly to our communities … goes largely ignored on the national stage like a homeless man begging for spare change outside a Washington D.C. Metro station, or that bat-sh*t crazy uncle who everyone ignores at the family reunion. Because “Uncle Smitty” is only tolerated and accepted because he’s “family.” As painful and embarrassing as it may be.
Here’s the frustration: there is no one at the national level who is “genuinely” trying to connect the dots in a meaningful and effective way when it comes to problems in our community. Yes, that silence you hear in the distance is Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Elijah Cummings, and so on.
No one dares associate our high unemployment rates, failing schools, corrupt local politicians, annihilation of the Black family unit, and our 70% children born out of wedlock rate with any of the problems that we currently have with law enforcement that athletes and others claim to be protesting right now.
Yes, bad cops need to be fired and or prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for their negligent or criminal acts. But to ignore and cover up equally detrimental factors that plague our community — especially when they occur with more frequency and cause considerably more collateral damage in our neighborhoods … is irresponsible and myopic.
Again, that’s “one in four” of our young men who don’t have a strong father figure in the household to mentor them on not instinctively fighting with or running away from law enforcement when you engage them. Better yet, a male figure to teach them how to lower their probability of even having to (negatively) engage law enforcement in the first place.
So here’s the predominant question behind the problems that most Americans see with Colin Kaepernick’s methodology in one carelessly crafted sentence:
Why is a gifted African-American athlete (millionaire) … who was lovingly adopted and cared for by White parents … protesting “White oppression” and social injustice by police officers in neighborhoods that he doesn’t have to live in, by targeting a flag that symbolizes the very nation that affords him incredible opportunities that the majority of us (regardless of race) only daydream about while driving back from our unspectacular jobs in I-95 congestion at the end of the day?
Here’s another one: As a blue-blooded, hard-working, middle class American, why am I paying $80 for your Football jersey and $300 in game tickets to watch you disrespect my father who came back from Vietnam with a Purple Heart and a 100% disability rating that irrevocably impacted our family in the 1970s.
Hopefully you get my point.
So, here’s how the San Fransisco 49ers’ quarterback, or Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, or anyone else who chooses to use their notoriety and fame to actually have a “positive” impact on the African-American/Police relation issue in our nation.
First, instead of disparaging the memories of White, Black, Native-American, Asian etc heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure the future survival and prosperity of not only their families but ours, why not use your privileged to serve as a unifying nexus between our communities and our local law enforcement.
Hold community-building expedition games between local youth athletes and Police. Visit local elementary, middle, and high schools along with Police officers and talk about what they see on the streets and how the Police are trying to help in their communities. Talk about Police engagement and protocols.
Visit local elementary, middle, and high schools along with Police officers …
These tactics have a unifying effect that builds relations … not further posture communities against law enforcement. Help reinforce the concept of community Policing. A community that refuses to “snitch” on the very terrorists that plague their neighborhoods will live in their violent cycles indefinitely.
Additionally, we all know that in this country, professional sports serve as a unifying force that will see an African-American Dallas Cowboy fan slapping high-fives and hugging another Cowboy fan of any race after their team scores a game-deciding touchdown or make an interception. For three hours and 12 minutes, the color of ones jersey transcends the color of your skin, religious affiliation, or political opinions.
Use that power for good.
Instead of further fracturing and polarizing a nation, use your privilege and access to heal it. At that point, Colin will become the right leader, with the right objectives, on the right battlefield. Then we can all watch the positive change in our country instead of watching enraged 49ers fans burning Kaepernick jerseys on You Tube.
Written by Andrew Brock | Goombaytally.com | Share us on Facebook or Twitter | Write a comment if you loved it | Write a comment if you hated it.
Written by Andrew Brock | Goombaytally.com Blog | 2016 | Contact us in the comment link for more information
The Third Iteration: Black America’s Must Do Strategy is a “Must Read” this Winter.
The average person watching CNN, Fox News or MSNBC would probably assess the current state of “Black America” as bleak at best; chaotic and increasingly volatile at worst. For example, the City of Chicago recently reported Fatal and Nonfatal Shooting numbers which have reached an incredible 2,909 so far in 2016, including 448 tragic fatalities.
Moreover, in the month of August alone, 81 people were killed in the windy city, with a total of 482 in the previous month. In fact, I believe it’s (probably) safe to say that the city Chicago often sustains more death and violence in a single weekend than our brave troops in Iraq or Afghanistan experience combined. For all intents and purposes, and by definition, Chicago is a war-zone on U.S. soil.
If that wasn’t enough, the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans is arguably the worst seen since the 1960s. Additionally, we see newly formed Activist groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) quickly gaining national attention and social media traction much like the Black Panther Party did in the 1960s.
Many would asked this question: “Are we losing traction as a race in this country?”
To add insult to injury, as young black men in our major cities continue terrorizing our communities by slowly decreasing our populations through systematic violence, we’re eliminating another segment of our communities (wholesale) before they’ve even had an opportunity to live one day.
The website, BlackGenocide.org reports that the number of reported African-American abortions since 1973 is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15.5 million. So just close your eyes and let that number sink in for a second. When you open your eyes, think about this: the population of Sweden is 9.8 million. Yes, nobody likes to talk about this tragedy in our community, but it’s real.
Here’s some more sobering statistics for you. Although we make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 35% of the jail population and 37% of the prison population. Unfortunately, this translates into somewhere near a 2.1 million incarceration population alone in this country; six times the incarceration rate of whites.
So there are indeed debilitating problems in our community. Where did we fall off the tracks? More importantly, what can be done? Are there viable strategies, ideas, or solutions proposed that can help correct the dangerous course that we seem to be headed?
That’s why I’m excited to see the release of retired Air Force officer and author, Jim Thompson’s book “The Third Iteration: Black America’s Must Do Strategy” in Dec 2016. Honestly, I believe this book has great promise and the potential to start a positive movement in Black America.
Jim Thompson approaches today’s African-American social dilemma from a strategic business approach and shows that the same management and leadership principles that successful companies, corporations, and military organizations use on a daily basis can be adopted into a collective, national movement for Black America right now. Today.
He further writes that Black America needs to see itself (and operate accordingly) as a large corporation that is currently failing in almost every measurable managerial performance metric and needs swift changes in its goals, vision, leadership and critical “Executive positions” if you will.
Jim also identifies our “Black Centers of Gravity” (BCOG). These are key social, economic, and political nodes that must be exploited in order to stimulate positive change within the community. These BCOGs are: The Black Community Church, local black businesses, local college and university systems, the local Police and law enforcement agencies, and Black Community Mentoring Groups.
In short summary, Jim proposes that Black America has already braved through two major social iterations since we were brought to America as slaves in the 18th century.
The “First Iteration” being the 1865 ratification of 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. The 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and stated that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
However, as we all know, although the 13th Amendment didn’t eliminate all the social injustices that plagued Black America during that time, it was a vitally important decision that set us on a progressive course. The freedoms that we enjoy today, would not be possible without that legal, political, and societal piece of legislature.
The “Second Iteration” was identified by Mr. Thompson as the Black Civil Rights Movement which occurred between 1954-68 and notably with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
More importantly, Jim, states that since Black America’s Second Iteration in the 1960s, we have collectively failed to positively evolve or progress to the next level of “corporate” development. “The Third Iteration.” Yes, we’ve experienced individual successes and triumphs — seeing the country’s first black president is a monumental victory for a people that was force-ably brought to this country in the dark, rancid boughs of ships and sold like cattle.
The author defines the The Third Iteration as Black America’s movement to repair a damaged family and social structure along with a broken moral compass, and to reestablish a strong sense of community, family, and “tribe” that has all but been obliterated since the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
He also identifies numerous reasons for our issues and stagnation today … here’s a few examples of his work:
- Just like corporations who eventually fire under-performing executives who lack the right goals and a vision for the company, we need to better vet our “black leaders” — especially those who only show up on CNN and MSNBC to seemingly feed their own headlines in selective civil rights cases, while remaining silent on other (less popular) issues that aren’t politically correct, yet contribute in volume to our social and moral demise.
- For example, prominent Civil Rights leaders like Reverend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton deserved the utmost respect and adoration for their hard work, sweat equity and dedication to human and civil rights at the height of the movement in the 1960s, but these “Executives” are no longer capable of taking Black America to The Third Iteration. Jim further explains that this is not a slight against these good men, it’s just reality. This dynamic is certainly not new and has been seen in the business world many, many times. For example, many successful CEOs of
- Fortune 500 companies admit that when they started their businesses … many times on a shoe-string budget and with a small staff of 5 loyal and dedicated employees, those staff members were the right people for the job at that exact period of time. However, as their businesses experienced exponential growth, they often had to release some of the original employees from key leadership positions because the company that they started a decade ago, no longer looked, walked, or smelled like the business that existed today. The CEOs realized that in order to grow and evolve, the company needed new blood, with enhanced talents, skill-sets, perspectives, and sometimes – pedigree. In fact, some of these CEOs honestly–and sometimes with some degree of embarrassment, admitted that it was “them” that needed to leave if the company had a fighting chance of succeeding in the future. In some instances, it was the rapid convergence of technological advancements and changes in the industry’s culture that occurred quicker than they could keep up with and they desperately needed leaders who thought and innovated within that same band-width to ensure sustainable success.
- Failing cities like Detroit and Chicago must get back control of their cities to stop the violence and social and economic hemorrhaging. There is no reason why cities that experience lose of life in the numbers that we’ve seen in 2016 should not be declaring a state of emergency, establishing a curfew, and activating the National Guard to patrol the streets. It’s tragic (and embarrassing) that we are describing major American cities in these terms but murder rates like these in Afghanistan would invariably justify a robust show of force and well-armed security teams patrolling those areas.
- Successful black professionals have an obligation to help form Black Mentoring Groups in their communities and serve as the missing link that should be the responsible Black male in the household. The author praises the single black women for her hard work, exhaustive dedication, sacrifices and perseverance, as they are left with the sole responsibility of raising generations of Black Americans; but says that black boys (specifically) also need strong male mentors who can positively impact their lives in very nuanced ways that women simply cannot. The statistics prove this statement every year. Jim also praises athletes like Lebron James, who are changing lives through their generosity, philanthropy, positive social influence, and mentorship. “These influential leaders need to be pushed to the front of the movement,” says Thompson.
- Black America has to incorporate, capitalize upon, and even exploit three distinct institutions in order to get to the third iteration: Black Mentoring Groups, churches, and existing technical trade schools, colleges and universities.
- We have a continuous cycle of young men with four “baby mommas” and eight kids with an inability (or desire) to take care of any of these life beings that they brought into the world. Coupled with a lack of respect for the law, and a similar lack of respect for human life, a belief that behaving oneself as a caring human being is tantamount to being a “punk,” and a general refusal to take responsibility for ones own actions. It’s way too easy to blame the “white man” right?
- As Black America, we love to allude to our African ancestry, but fail to realize that tribalism, family, and community is in our core DNA. We are a people who are created and designed to thrive and succeed within strong family bonds and circles. Unfortunately, well-meaning, but destructive social programs, illegal drugs, gang violence, immorality, and crime have all but removed the relevant African-American male from the Black household and community. One statistic shows that 70% of black children are born out of wedlock; that equates to roughly one out of four black children without a strong family structure to fall back on. Consequently, this dynamic has had a devastating and spiraling impact the Black Family that has materialized itself in many of the social issues that we see on CNN today. So that means a larger segment of our society (and future) do not benefit from the safety, security, and discipline that a strong family structure can provide. Black mothers are doing the best they can; but our black boys need a strong father figure to help mentor and instill a sense of respect for principles such as “natural law,” citizenship, business savvy, relationships, and discipline.
- Successful corporations have professional marketing and advertising experts that shape and craft the right image that represents their company, their products, and their culture. Black America needs to “fire” their current advertising Executives right now. Why? Because they’ve promoted the wrong role models and heroes and some have elevated damaging messages that too many of us have embraced and promulgated.
- Stop hating on America! Black Americans have to embrace America as “our country.” O.K, I can actually see the rolling eyes out there right now. Yes, America has “done us wrong,” in the past and we have a natural tendency to distrust a system guilty of such racial atrocities in the past. Got it. However, this is 2016 — we have a black President for the love of Christ. Do you think President Barack Obama was elected into office (twice) with just the Black vote? Of course not. That would be mathematically impossible. America is not the same place that our ancestors grew up in. Let’s stop acting like we live in the Jim Crow South. Yes, there are significant racial problems and yes, there are Americans who will hate a Black people until their last day on earth. But that’s they’re universal weight to bear — not ours. Furthermore, unless we plan on organizing a mass exodus back to the “Motherland” any time soon, we need to do our part to invest in the place we’ve called home for generations. America is not a temporary rental apartment for black people … we are here to stay. Until we embrace this sentiment, we will forever continue to isolate and segregate ourselves into non-relevance in the future. Why? Because there are other minorities groups coming to our country everyday who are more than willing to sign on to the the experiment called America and call her home.
- Invigorating our Black Churches: If our black churches aren’t truly serving their communities and providing value back into the lives of their congregations–beyond one or two services a week and a potluck every first Sunday, then they are missing critical opportunities to impact black lives and families. No, collecting an extra offering for the “building fund” does not count. The Third Iteration will see black churches transformed into “true” spiritual “Centers of Gravity” as well as natural focal points for advancing education, moral development, counsel, job skills, discipline, and citizenship.
- We need to work with our local universities and colleges to develop strong supplemental after school study programs for neighboring low-income communities. These programs would provide young black students with clean, safe, quiet, and intellectually stimulating environments to study, sharpen their cognitive skills, and seek help with their homework from motivated, trained secondary education college students from the assigned institutions. If approved and funded, this will program will not only help propel our youth, but will serve as a valuable work-study opportunity for college students who, as we all know, could use the extra income.
- Black America has to hold our entertainers, athletes, and celebrities responsible for their personal actions and intellectual products that they pump into our communities. Why are we surprised when cities like Chicago lose 50 citizens in a week to gang violence when our music glorifies the same activity and we hand the artists a bright and shiny BET Award or Grammy for their efforts. Then, watch them on stage as they thank God for their Platinum record entitled “Killin’ Mother-F****** like Roaches.” Anyway. I think you get my point. Moreover, nobody takes us serious when we point out the immorality, injustice, or lack of moral fiber in our Police, government or other races when our kids are dancing to music that uses the “N-word” in every verse and refer to our women in the same manner that we would describe a piece of ribeye steak at The Western Sizzler.
In conclusion, Jim Thompson’s book will inevitably ruffle some feathers national-wide, but most importantly, it will cause us to think critically and possibly take meaningful action in our fragile communities. Finally, some will say that Jim’s principles are too simplistic, sterile and even academic; but I think the average reader will find them logical and thought-provoking to say the least.
Again, look for this book to make some waves just in time for Christmas.
Written by Andrew Brock | Goombay Tally Blog 2016