For all who write negative comments about the football players who took a knee and posted that “this is not the America we grew up in,” let me share a few of the personal events from my life growing up in Tacoma, Washington, as a white woman.
1. During World War II, a black man and the father of two of my good friends was awarded the Purple Heart and the gold star for his military service. He returned to his home in the south under Jim Crow laws with “whites only” signs posted everywhere. He moved his family to Tacoma where the only job he could get was that of a janitor in one of our schools. A war hero becomes a janitor. How many other people of color, who served, came home to the same indignities?
2. With GIs from WWII coming back through Ft. Lewis and McCord wanting to buy homes in Tacoma, the upper Hilltop area, which was home to many immigrant families, was red-lined by real-estate to be the only section of the city where blacks could purchase a home. Keeping them all in one area of the city was the norm.
3. In 1959 I marched with four of my friends in the Daffodil Parade. One of our four was black. When we stopped at Woolworth for lunch, a waitress came over to our booth and said my black cheerleader friend could not order or be served there. We went across the street to Kress, where a waitress told us the same thing. Blacks are not served there. That was the beginning of my involvement with picketing against establishments of segregation.
4. In 1975, the first-grade teacher at Sheridan, who lived in Puyallup, reserved tables at the Puyallup Elks for our last day of school staff party. At the door, our third-grade teacher of Hawaiian/Asian descent was told that she could not enter or be served at the Elks Club. It was for “whites” only. This same teacher recited the Pledge of Allegiance every day in her classroom and sang the national anthem at our school assemblies. Take a look at the total number of Japanese descent who were taken out of their homes and placed into internment camps, even though they were born in America and pledged their allegiance to the flag.
I could cite several more personal experiences where America was proud of segregation, so for you to say that football players are disrespecting the flag is to not understand the years of struggle for many of its citizens. They were willing to fight for our freedoms, but are denied equal treatment to this day. Open your eyes and see what was really happening in America. Far too many people suffered humiliation, even death from the KKK so each of us needs to take a knee and apologize for the treatment of our fellow human beings.