I'm From Turlock and I Support Colin Kaepernick
For most of my adult life, I've had to explain where I grew up. For years, nobody'd heard of Turlock, California. I'd get all sorts of questions as to the town's location, what was there, the size, economy, types of businesses... all that. I'd tell them Turlock's home to Cal State Stanislaus, MedicAlert and was mentioned in George Lucas' American Graffiti.
And still, I'd get a blank stare.
Until a few years ago, you didn't read much about Turlock in the press. That is, until a young man came off the San Francisco 49ers bench to fill in for a concussed Alex Smith. That young man was Colin Kaepernick, former Turlock resident.
Up until a few weeks ago, Colin could do no wrong by Turlockers. But, the minute he decided to take a stand for African-Americans shot and killed by police officers (or a neighborhood 'watchman'), the most of town quickly dumped him.
Social media was particularly bad. I remember scrolling through the status updates the day after the protest broke, and couldn't believe what I was reading. Here are a few abridged comments/posts:
- I can't believe someone raised by a white family would do this!
- Doesn't he have tattoos of our BIBLE across his body? He's such a hypocrite.
- I went to school with his brother, and can't believe this.
- He's from a rich white family.
- He's a Muslim now.
- He makes $19 million a year, and white people buy his jersey. What oppression is he talking about?
- His parents must be disappointed in him.
- What's with his hair?!
- Since when does the American flag discriminate?
- We've given minorities trillions of dollars.
Gosh Turlock. You really made yourself look like a shining beacon of freedom for all the world to see.
Essentially, what you're saying is this:
You've made your millions, therefore, check your blackness at the door. You've embarrassed our fair city. Stand up, shut up and show appreciation for the White Man. After all, he signs your paycheck and bought your jersey.
Also, Turlock, let's remember our town's history. The U.S. government used the fairgrounds as an 'assembly center' for Japanese-Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our American government rounded up your fellow Americans and took them to the fairgrounds as a holding point until a train could take your fellow Americans to an internment camp. Some second or third generation natural born Americans lost farms, homes and businesses based on the color of their skin and the shape of their eyes. (For sources please select this link or this link.)
Imagine being 14 years old and wandering around the fairgrounds, and looking up to see an American flag waiving under a hot, bright Turlock sun. I cannot fathom the confusion this young person must have felt. It does make me wonder Turlock if you missed this lecture in history class, or if you choose not to recognize this ugly part of our collective history as Americans.
As the protest moved forward, and Colin's reasoning became clearer, the Turlock attitude shifted a bit. Not only was Colin horrible, but he was even worse because now it's about the police/military.
It's very simple: If you don't support the police/military, you're a horrible person. Say you decline permission for an officer to search your car without a warrant, which is well within your 4th Amendment right, you're clearly asking to get shot. If you question American military intervention, it's clear you hate freedom. Because, that's what every single American military intervention's been about since the end of World War II. Freedom isn't free.
There are thousands of careers I'll never understand. Who am I to question a rocket scientist if a launch goes wrong? I never took physics, so I trust their answers for a failed launch attempt.
I've never been a police officer, so I wouldn't know the feeling about putting on a uniform each night, wondering what kind of danger the night may bring.
More importantly, I've never been an African-American male. I've never been oppressed, I've never had trouble getting a cab, I've never been followed around a store and I've never had any trouble with the police. When I wear a hoodie, I've never had someone follow me around a neighborhood, attack me and then shoot me without cause.
Have you, Turlock? Have you experienced what Colin's been through? Have you even left the town to see what kind of ugliness exists in the dark alleys of some cities? We live (or lived) in a town with an African-American population under 2 percent. What exactly do you know about discrimination?
Apparently, you know everything. Apparently, young black men adopted by white parents now need to check their degree of blackness before talking about inequality or social justice.
You've missed the entire point of what Colin's saying... and your Turlock is showing.