While sorting through old hard copies of my work, I discovered this piece I wrote twenty-one years ago (between March 21, 1996 and July 2, 1996). I kept wondering why the Colin Kaepernick saga sounded so familiar. It sounded familiar because this is not the first time an Black professional athlete has been persecuted (and lost millions of dollars) for expressing their constitutional right to protest the blind patriotism of the national-anthem pre-game ritual.
In 1996 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended for praying during the national-anthem. Prior to Abdul-Rauf, Tommie Smith and John Carlos etched the iconic image of the Black Power Fist being raised at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City into sports history (or infamy depending on where you stand). It’s important to recognize that this is not a new struggle, but the continuation of the struggle for black liberation in America.
u can’t count on
my pledge of allegiance
anymore than u can count
on my repudiation of black gangstas
who struggle to tune bullets into ballots
while white gangstas continue to run
yo’ country tis of thee.
u can’t count on me
or my pledge of allegiance
anymore than you can count
how many Abdul-Raufs it takes
to make an NBA game start with,
“Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing”
or how many kneel-sonz named temecca it takes
to make Dr. Jay run the half-time show,
cuz, Bob Cost-us ain’t never played no rock.
u can’t count
whatchu can’t see: invisible/men-women-or-children.
but u damn-sho’ can guess-timate, estimate, and anticipate
how tha intangibly invisibles will participate.
kinda like countin’ hens b4 they cum home 2 roost.
one nation on top of a powder-keg
bringing the world peace-
through superior fire-power
wit liberty n Justus… fo’ y’all