Powell: By going too far, POTUS unwittingly advances African-Americans' cause

In less than 72 hours, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick went from Public Enemy No. 1 to Universal Hero — all because of President Donald Trump. Now much of the world kneels with the unemployed African-American quarterback who chose to take a knee and fight the power instead of falsely paying homage to a song written by a slaver from Maryland.

From his Charlottesville comments, equating neo-terrorists to normal Americans, building a "wall" to stop illegal immigration, trying to shutter Historically Black Colleges and Universities, President Trump has finally gone too far.


Now our president has denounced African-Americans' right to protest blue-on-black murders and even calling mothers of peaceful protesters a derogatory term for a female dog. Thank your Mr. President for showing us what you really feel. Twitter is the bomb and you do the most (an intern told me that now means the most awful).

POTUS' comments on NFL players' protest to the ongoing killings of African-Americans may shock some, but was expected by others. As a former football player, Howard University student, NFL/NBA/ major college sports writer and current 6-year politician, I'm beautifully appalled.


Race has always been America's problem. African-Americans are the only immigrant group forced here, kicking, screaming, raped, whipped, burned and hanged. Native Americans, who tried to help the enslaved, were killed off or forced out. Does President Trump know this part of history? His favorite president Andrew Jackson did.

No, says Willie Fleming, former two-term president of the African-American Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party and now southern regional director.

"We want to thank you, Mr. President, for showing where your heart lies," said Fleming, also a Vietnam vet. "From our territory of Puerto Rico, to Texas, to our friends in Mexico, you've said almost nothing. Focusing on peaceful protest by mostly black players and even some white owners shows you are a trying to make America worse again. Stay in your lane, stick to politics. I've run a state; he needs to run our whole country — from health to North Korea. Why are black protests so upsetting?"

Randy Voller, former North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman, current leader of the state's Labor Caucus and grandson of a champion New York Yankee who played with Babe Ruth was even upset — as a white guy. Bringing up Steph Curry's and Lebron James' outrage, Voller said, "[Trump has] shown us what he's made of before. Now, much of America is actually seeing it."

"From Charlotte to Baltimore to New York, African-Americans are being killed by police," Voller said. "Respect all Americans' right to protest. Especially for life. Stand on the correct side of history."

President Trump likes to saber rattle and create culture battles by throwing red meat to his base. It's his modus operandi and a form of contrived chaos meant to show the president in a position of strength versus pampered and mostly African-American athletes, while simultaneously stoking resentment against said athletes among his base support. This is a typical "Trumpian" gambit because while he projects an illusion of strength on Twitter, he cannot control nor manage the response from the players and the owners in the NFL and NBA. They are not afraid of the tone-deaf, clueless post-Charottesville cyber bully occupying the Oval Office.

The Michael Jordan Era of black political silence is over, America. We were dragged here to work the land and entertain. This weekend showed that we have voices, even when silent. We are people, too. Not minstrel actors to watch, kill and joke about.

I wrote a sports column for the Carroll County Times in 2001 just after 9/11, saying we should not be invading Iraq. The voicemail was full of angry people. One person, working for a team I covered even said "…where we find Saddam Hussein, we will find Osama bin Laden."

I asked why? The answer was, essentially, they were both Arabs. A race to be hated. That person was wrong.

America was wrong and has always been wrong when it comes to African-Americans protesting for Black Lives Mattering. In states like North Carolina, we have seen too much gerrymandering, trying to take our votes and police actually taking innocent African-American lives.

We will not stand for this. We will kneel as we rise. President Trump and many Americans, from Carroll County to Los Angles County and every county in-between, must see that African-Americans are fighting just to drive home alive.

President Barack Obama was born in America. Jaymes Powell Jr. was born in America. Colin Kaepernick was born in America. Just not the America the current POTUS seems to want.


As a statewide elected official, I have to calm my Prince George's County- and N.C. State-educated wife. "I'm coming home, tonight … they won't get me."

It's a partial lie every time I say it. Kaepernick and other NFL players' actions will not make that promise true, but at least I know I'm not lying by myself.

We will overcome this blue-on-black injustice. Unknowingly, President Trump may have been the final catalyst? Doubt it, but his foolish and ignorant pattern will help.

Ignorance is only trumped by willful ignorance.

Jaymes Powell Jr. is vice president of the African-American Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party. He formerly covered the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Wizards for the Carroll County Times before covering the Carolina Panthers, East Carolina and the ACC for the Raleigh News & Observer.

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