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  • kamyra9

THE PROTESTOR WHO WASN'T

A weird thing happened Saturday morning. When our walking group entered the pre-race area for a debut 5K, the race participants were in the midst of singing the "Star Spangled Banner." We six women of African descent froze. Darn. We wanted to run-walk, not deal with politics before 6 a.m. 


My brain short-circuited. Thoughts of how I felt regarding the song lyrics, its composer, the national protest, the co-opting of the protest, and fear of White supremacists lurking in my Atlanta bubble (there I admitted it) mixed with the need to act. Two of our six immediately kneeled. I touched the shoulder of one, preparing to descend, but never reached one knee. Instead, I looked around, assessed the crowd, observed reactions to us, and listed how I felt about the greater issue. When I remembered what I was doing, the song was over, and it was my opportunity to express myself. 


Before the meteor storm on kneeling during the national anthem, I insisted upon respectful silence whenever the song was played in my presence. Saturday morning, my kneeling sisters adhered to that peacefully. I firmly believe in the reason for kneeling and every person's right to peaceful protest. Why did I freeze? 


The truth is I'd never considered what I'd do in that situation. I was unprepared. The national anthem is not something I confront in my daily existence. My hesitation came from the mess this country has created over something fundamental to the fabric of the U.S.A. I'm frustrated that something elementary distracts us from critical issues such as disaster preparedness and relief, health care, judicial appointments, and violence. I was overwhelmed by what a simple jester means to so many and how far engaging in it is from simple and easy. So, yes, I missed a chance to make a public visual. But in doing so, I challenged myself. From this weekend forward, this introverted ponderer of words will think through how and why she'd react when thrown into hypothetical fires. She'll have a verbal justification handy. How about you? Are you ready to visually and verbally throw down your politics without notice, in the wee hours of the morning, on little sleep? Should we all be prepared? 

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