When I was a child, The People’s Court was a big and new thing. A mostly grumpy older white man, Judge Joseph Wapner preempted Judy, Mablean, Lynn, Mathis, et al. He was no-nonsense and before anything else was discussed, he wanted to know if there was a receipt for whatever was being refuted. From damaged hair weaves to unpaid rent, a receipt could change everything in the o…riginal People’s Court.
From watching the show and being raised by a mother who believed in keeping receipts for EVERYTHING, I grew up believing in the power of proof – whether it was proof of purchase or proof why a premise is problematic. So, feeling the way I do about receipts and walking around with at least ten or so in my wallet at any given time, I am staring and slow blinking at all I’ve been reading about Colin Kaepernick’s allegedly patriotic opposition.
Yes, I understand folks don’t have to agree with him. I mean, viva la difference, right? Yes, I know some folks feel personally connected to the Star Spangled Banner because patriotism, warm hearts, apple pie, baseball, mayonnaise, and what not. I mean, I genuinely believe America is one the best places to live – despite the racist oppression, human trafficking, tearing up of the middle-class, and that pesky way it was established on the literal blood and attempted genocide of the Indigenous People and the slave labor of Africans. I like that I can write this without fear of prison (mostly), though I might end up blocked from Facebook for 30 days if the racists get upset. I appreciate how Kaepernick can hit that football field, take a knee during the National Anthem, and be well within his rights to do so. What I don’t appreciate is the way we’ve dug into our wallets and pulled out receipts for the racist lyrics and history attached to The Star Spangled Banner and a paid invoice for the issues to which Kaepernick wants to draw attention only to be told, “Eff your proof of purchase.”
I don’t know about you, but if I return to the store to get my money back on a defective product for which I paid my hard-earned money, there will be furniture moving. If a store clerk looked at the defective item in my hand and the receipt that proved I paid for it expecting it to be whole and told me, “Screw you AND this defective crap you probably broke yourself because you’re Black,” suffice it to say, there would be a problem or two.
And so it is with Kaepernick, the issues he is protesting, and the Star Spangled Banner. Granted, he didn’t start this to draw attention to the song itself, but in all the ballyhoo surrounding those who are angry with him, the unequivocal evidence of the racist basis for that song has come out and there are still folks wondering why a Black guy wouldn’t want to stand hand over heart whilst singing along with the artist du jour. With the frequency with which reports of physical abuse and murder of unarmed Black folks increasing, the relevance of the receipts is being downplayed. The right of the unwilling consumer to be made whole by the retailer is repeatedly ignored. Judge Wapner would be so displeased.