Damien Barling: A Difference of Opinion, A Civilized Dialogue

I get a lot of emails like this when the subject of the national anthem comes up. My boss gets significantly more. I’ve been called a deviant, a racist, and my all time favorite is when we were told to “stop pushing our black views”.

I thought I’d share this exchange with you. It has nothing to do with games, on field play, or the Kings… You’ve been warned. The only thing I changed from the original exchange is I removed the gentleman’s name.

To Mr. Damien Barling;

I am still having an issue with NFL protests during the National Anthem.  I look at other areas that to me are more important for the Black American community.  I watched Charles Barkley in an interview about a week ago concerning Civil War statues and one comment he made really stuck with me.  He talked about how Black Americans have to stop killing each other.  I mentioned this in a letter I sent to you, Doug Christie, and Grant Napier.  I have always respected Charles Barkley because he has good common sense.  After his comment I did a little research on his comment and what I found is that year to date in Chicago there have been 2815 people shot so far.  520 have died from these shootings.  80+% of the people killed have been Black Americans.  How many deaths have resulted from the police……..total of 10 year to date.  So blaming the President and disrespecting the countries National Anthem is maybe misdirected energy?  Charles Barkley is the only Black American that has made this comment, but nobody protests what is happening in Chicago and other cities across America.  Does Black America disregard these killings?  Or is it easier to blame someone else for it.  

This thing that Kaepernick isn’t helping anything and if people think it is then they are mistaken.  It is probably helping divide people even more. The National Anthem is very important to many people of all colors and backgrounds.  And as many people do not like the President, if you remember he wanted Chicago’s mayor to use the National Guard to help stem the killings, however, the mayor refused and the killings continue…  He is also trying to get businesses back to the intercity to help stimulate the economy and create jobs, but people are more worried about his wife’s shoes.

I included a picture of a young man that probably wishes somebody fought or protested for him.  Thank you for your time and I do enjoy your radio show.

(I did not include the photo because we do not have permission to the post the image from our service. If you care, it was a picture of a young black man’s funeral)

Respectfully;

XXXXXXXXX

MY RESPONSE IS AS FOLLOWS

Mr XXXXX,
I want to explain my side of the so called “national anthem protests”. Before we continue, I want to be clear, I don’t recognize what happened in week 3 (9/24) of the NFL season to be a part of the “national anthem protests”. What occurred this past weekend was not the original point of what Colin Kaepernick did last summer. What happened this weekend was a reaction to Donald Trump and his remarks directed at protesting players. The NFL considers itself a fraternity of brothers and for some reason felt the need to use the same demonstration that Kaepernick used to bring attention to police brutality and racial inequality. What happened this past weekend had nothing to do with bringing attention to police brutality and racial inequality.
Moving on… Charles Barkley’s point about people, particularly men, in the black community killing each other is not new. It’s not a point that those in the black community are unaware of. It’s something we’ve been dealing with since the slave days that was magnified post Cilvil War when blacks were “free” (we’ll get back to that later).
I’ll take it a step further and say the people who truly want change in the black community not only have seen those statistics but they have them memorized and lose sleep over them. And to be clear, just because Charles Barkley is the only black person you’ve heard discuss black on black crime, doesn’t mean he’s the only one talking about it.
Here’s the thing I would like you to understand when relating black on black crime to police brutality. If I walk up to another man, tell him to get on the ground, he doesn’t have to. I have no position of authority over him. If a police officer were to do it, that man would have to get on the ground because police officers carry a position of authority. A trusted position of authority. I’m assuming you’re aware the trust between the black community (as a whole) and the police force is virtual nonexistent. We can pick apart the reasons why all day long but I’d encourage you to read the book The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness. It depicts when the police force rounded up “free slaves”post Civil War to help rebuild the South. Think about that for a second Mr XXXXX. The very group of people who a nation fought each other over where forced to help rebuild the community of the people who wanted to keep them in chains. 13th is also a tremendous documentary on Netflix. If you’re truly interested in learning more about the relationship with the police force and the black community, take 93 minutes of your life to watch that.
Now since you gave me numbers I’m gonna do the same…
  • In 2015, a black person was 2.45 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by the police.
  • White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Hence, 2.45 times more likely to be killed.
  • In 2015, police killings of blacks accounted for approximately 4 percent of homicides of blacks. Police killings of unarmed blacks accounted for approximately 0.6 percent of homicides of blacks. The overwhelming majority of black homicide victims (93 percent from 1980 to 2008) were killed by blacks.
I’m guessing that last line fits nicely into your original point. Here’s what you may not know…
  • During that same time frame, 87% of white homicide victims we’re killed by other white people.
I think we can agree 87% is a pretty big number. Why don’t we hear that one thrown around the same way we do the black on black crime numbers?
As far as Kaepernick goes, I’ve included a link to his original media scrum immediately following the first time he took a knee (actually it was the game he sat on the bench). He says, very clearly, he’s doing it because he believes the country lacks racial equality and that the police killings (that, at the time were taking place on a far too regular basis) were an attack on people of color. I happen to agree with him. Many do. So my question to you is, if Colin Kaepernick is asking for racial equality, and the people who back him (like myself) are asking for racial equality, why is it being met with so much resistance? You mention pride for the flag and pride for the anthem. What about pride for the Declaration of Independence? The Declaration that says, “All men are created equal”.
Thank you for the picture. Its heartbreaking. I’ve included one for you. You may recognize some of those individuals. This was from what is now referred to as “The Ali Summit”. It took place in June of 1965. Do you know what these men were meeting about and fighting for?
Racial equality.
HIS FINAL RESPONSE
I appreciate you getting back to me.  I have to say I don’t necessarily agree with everything you stated, however you didn’t agree with everything I wrote either. You did make some good points I was not aware of.  That is the beauty of this country, to peacefully debate passionate subjects.  Keep up the good work.
XXXXXX
How bout that?  How very… American of us. #United
More from Damien Barling
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