Kaepernick too hot for Black History Month in Wisconsin

Here’s the thing about history: it’s messy and sometimes ticks people off.

For the second straight session, black members of the Wisconsin Assembly are blasting white Republicans because a resolution marking Black History Month reinforces only a part of history that’s acceptable to whites.

The Assembly passed a resolution drafted by the Legislature’s black caucus yesterday honoring Black History Month, but only after removing a reference to history that’s too hot for the whites: Colin Kaepernick’s protest for racial equality.

“It is critical for this body to recognize the black caucus and recognize the resolution we put forward,” Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee said during floor debate. “Many of these people that you don’t agree with will still be in the history books that your children and grandchildren will be reading.”

The white lawmakers exhibited a “textbook example of white privilege,” he said.

Kaepernick, who was born in Milwaukee and has donated to a Milwaukee organization that works with teens, led a protest against police shootings of black people by kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL games when he was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s been unable to find work in the league since.

In its resolution, the legislature cited more than two dozen black leaders but Republicans balked at Kaepernick.

“I think it’s important to recognize the contributions of literally thousands and thousands of African-Americans to our state’s history but also trying to find people who, again, bring us together. Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said.

The Republican alternative resolution removed Kaepernick.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the debate will move to the Senate today.

Republican Sens. Alberta Darling of River Hills and Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield signed onto the version of the resolution honoring Kaepernick, according to the lead sponsors of the measure.

“It’s outrageous that some Republicans feel they can censor African-American legislators in this way,” said Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, who co-authored the resolution. “So while we celebrate the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, evidently the Republicans don’t think the 1st Amendment rights should be afforded to African-Americans.”

In 2018, Republican Rep. Scott Allen of Waukesha said he and other Republican lawmakers objected to the black caucus’ resolution that year because it didn’t include black Wisconsinites he believed should be honored, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and former Milwaukee Sheriff David E. Clarke Jr., who has been criticized for demeaning black residents of the state.

“He decided to take on ownership of a problem that he saw, which was police brutality, and the fact that we hope everyone in this room recognizes that black lives are important and yes, they do matter,” Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said, quoted by the Capital Times. “Whether you dislike the method that he used, understand that it is a part of America’s DNA, not just African-Americans. Protest. The personal ability to show one’s dissent.”

A Republican representative tweeted — then deleted — a response.

Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told reporters, however, that she did not send the tweet.

  • Rob

    Gods bless American Exceptionalism.

  • Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side

    Pretty sure this would discount most people.

    • RBHolb

      It would especially discount a lot of the “acceptable” people whom it would not be controversial to honor now. I’m old enough to remember what white people thought of Dr. King back in the day.

      • Barton

        Looks like we were typing at the same time with the same (excellent, IMO) point.

        • RBHolb

          Great minds really do work alike.

    • Barton

      I’ll bet it would have discounted most everyone on that list during their lifetime. Dr King is a perfect example, and now everyone (white) seems to only remember his peaceful sayings/stances, not his truly revolutionary (in action) saying/stances.

      • jon

        The very reason we need black history month is to keep history from being… whitewashed…

        over time certain parts of history get emphasised… and others fall away… and if the people studying the history don’t have the perspective of the folks who were there… or even the perspectives of the folks who are here now that more closely mirror those perspectives… we change history to match our perspective… what we want it to be, and ignore the parts we don’t want.

        Dr. King is a peaceful protestor… not a radical revolutionary…. because that’s what we (white people) want to read, so that’s what we (white people) write into the history books…

        • Barton

          I think for the above, we should replace “we” with “white people” and you are absolutely correct on all parts.

          • jon

            Updated where I thought was appropriate…

            I refuse to change the first “we” because I’ve been through many black history months in elementary school, and the black students there need to see history through the perspective that more closely mirrors their own as much as the rest of us need to see history through a lens that doesn’t mirror our own.

            edit: and even in grade school white kids asked why there was no white history month… to which the answer was: it’s called european history, and it’s basically what’s covered between the chapters entitle “ancient egypt” and “the new world” in history books.

            Second edit: and even thinking about it, ancient egypt got whitewashed too at the time… what with sean connery playing an immortal egyption in highlander, and the books showing them with fairly pale skin tones…..

        • Sonny T

          Sounds like one boring book

      • Sonny T

        Including Kaepernick alongside historic, iconic figures is probably wrong.

        • I doubt most people had ever heard of many of the people on the list. That’s kind of the point of Black History Month. Not the white version of Black History Month — you know, when radio stations play Chuck Berry and Aretha Franklin — but actual people who actually were (and are, in this case) instigators of racial change — or at least discussion that will eventually lead to change.

          It’s a real opportunity not unlike the NY Times recently publishing obituaries of women who didn’t get the obituaries they deserved because they were women.

          What we’re looking at here is really the perversion of history because the standard for telling it — according to Speaker Vos — is that it has to people who are acceptable to everyone.

        • RBHolb

          There is a difference between “the past” and “history.” The past is everything that ever happened before now (“There is only now, and that’s already gone.”). History is how we choose to memorialize, remember, study, or exalt the past.

          Leaving Kaepernick out of history is making a choice that we want to ignore him, or diminish what he has done. The majority, and that portion of the majority that has power in Wisconsin, is making that choice for the rest of the state.

          • Sonny T

            He’s not historic. Including him among the giants of the past is silly.

          • Who else is on the resolution. Let’s take a look.

            I wonder who would be on a Minnesota list and which ones would be unacceptable to whites.

          • Sonny T

            Long as they didn’t wear pig socks…

          • Jay T. Berken

            I frankly don’t think you or the Wisconsin Assembly can judge what is historic, and how they will be judged. Ask someone like Rosa Parks. Maybe Kaepernick will be remembered, maybe not.

          • Here’s a question. When did Rosa Parks become someone historic? At what moment?

          • Jay T. Berken

            That is a really good question. I do not know.

            I’m reading Walter Isaacson’s da Vinci biography. The fascinating thing about da Vinci is that for centuries after his death, he was little known only for his art. What people later found out that his ingenious was that he was centuries before his time in engineering and body anatomy studies. He kept meticulous notes in numerous journals that no one read and could have advanced human healthcare centuries earlier if only da Vinci PUBLISHED his works. But the history books righted da Vinci’s place in history and is one of the most well known people ever to walk the earth, at least in Western Culture.

          • Jeff

            Digressing, but I read it also. I came away with mixed feelings. He was certainly a genius as an artist and thinker but so often he failed to follow through and as you point out share and publish his work. He was a celebrity in his day and great at self-promotion.

          • Barton

            I studied history. We were always taught, or more appropriately it was highly suggested we believe, that “history” is 20 years after the date of the event AND when the topic can be discussed in a dispassionate and hopefully logical manner by academics. (Academics being key because memory makes it difficult – or should make it difficult – to discuss things like the Holocaust with dispassion).

            I’m not sure by that definition helps, but it is a good starting point.

          • Jerry

            Rosa Park’s story has already been sanitized to make people more comfortable.

          • I can’t think of a single civil rights leader who wasn’t reviled at the time.

          • Jerry

            And not just by a few southerners in hoods, but by “mainstream” America.

          • RBHolb

            That is a decision made by white people, who are deciding what acceptable black history really is.

          • Jerry

            We should only study those that history has had a chance to sanitize, right?

          • Sonny T

            Have we sanitized someone? That would be bad.

          • Jerry

            Yes we have. Sanitized, neutered, removed all the sharp edges.

          • Rob

            We’ve sanitized — or demonized — or over-simplified — virtually every historical figure and event.

  • Barton

    “‘The white lawmakers exhibited a “textbook example of white privilege,’ [Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee] said.”

    It sure is.

  • Gary Leatherman

    I’m sorry, are the WI Republicans who provided an alternative list of names to the Black History Month resolution actually black? Cuz if not, then they don’t get to say who’s on the list. Sure, they get to vote yay or nay to the resolution, but they don’t get to select the people that represent the black community and their history in Wisconsin. The black community’s representatives do and they did. Don’t like someone on the list? Vote no on the resolution and live with the consequences of how that looks to the world.

  • Gary F

    You’d think Kaepernick would be playing in that new league to keep his skills up. That is, if he really thinks he’s going to be a pro football player again.

    • Rob

      There’s lots of ways Kaepernick could be keeping his skills up short of playing in the AAF; but how or whether he’s keeping his skills up ain’t the subject of this post.

      • theoacme

        Even if Jesus Christ personally endorsed Kaepernick on the Joel Osteen Show, no NFL team is ever going to sign him…regardless of Kaepernick’s skills…

        • Rob

          I’m aware. Hence Kaepernick’s boycott lawsuit against the NFL

    • Ickster

      Can we stay on topic please? This is about the legislature in WI, and while Kaepernick is part of the story, he is not the story.

    • Ben Chorn

      Maybe he doesn’t want to play in a lesser league where if he gets injured his career may be over. Maybe it is also against his contract with Nike. Maybe we should start looking more at his message and his treatment because of it.

  • Jeff

    Is the Wisconsin legislature ever out of session? Seems like they should shut it down for a while.

    • RBHolb

      The Wisconsin Legislature is officially in session all year, but it only has formal sessions a few times a year. They are in recess the rest of the time. Sine die adjournment doesn’t happen until the new Legislature is convened after a general election.

      This lets the Legislature reconvene at any time without waiting for the Governor to call a special session.

  • Gary F

    AAF must be racist too. He’s an NFL quality QB.

  • Erik Petersen

    These notions here don’t have any sensible linkage.

    Kaep could probably still play some NFL QB as a matter of skill. Expecting him to go to the AAF to ‘stay sharp’ is like thinking Jasper Johns should teach these Bob Ross wine painting seminars at the strip mall. It’s not a proper use of his time (those guys are paid very little…), so its not likely he’s sought a roster spot there. IE, no AAF team has even gotten the opportunity to participate in a racist blackball of Kaep.

    • Jeff

      Was Jasper Johns standing or kneeling when he painted his flag?

    • RBHolb

      ” . . .like thinking Jasper Johns should teach these Bob Ross wine painting seminars at the strip mall.”

      Way off topic here, but I laughed out loud at that image. It sounds like Johns was sentenced to a particularly cruel form of community service.

  • Jim in RF

    The Democratic candidates for Assembly won 53% of the vote but only 36% of the seats in 2018, which explains why Republicans feel so cocky about letting their true feelings show. It’s not a little gerrymandered, it’s massively gerrymandered. See https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/blogs/wisconsin-voter/2018/12/06/wisconsin-gerrymandering-data-shows-stark-impact-redistricting/2219092002/ for details.

    • Jeff

      Maybe this boils down to politics as well. If you’re a Republican do you want to risk getting “primaried” for voting for a bill that had Kaepernick in it? This could be easily seen or spun as anti-Trump.

  • RBHolb

    She names the staffer who supposedly sent the tweet. This is someone she hired knowing that he had a history of sending racially-charged messages. Of course, he told her he wouldn’t do it again.

    • “racially-charged messages”


      • RBHolb

        It was one of those “who’s the REAL racist?” messages. Gosh, he wasn’t really being racist, he was just pointing it out, and anyway, political correctness, snowflake, safe space!

  • MarkUp

    According to the Cap Times, another name the Republicans take issue with is Milwaukee Pastor Greg Lewis, who ran campaigns educating people on their voting rights, as well as being a vocal opponent of voter ID laws. The kicker is this quote, referencing the disagreements over last year’s referendum:
    “Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, argued the resolution should honor all black Wisconsinites, not just a select few.”

    Here’s the resolution text with the list of names:

  • AmiSchwab

    the only recognition ex sheriff clarke deserves is jail time

  • Erik Petersen

    By that logic the NFL is blackballing Tony Romo and Christian Ponder as well. No one thinks Kaeps immediate playing past says hes a starter, you wouldn’t sign him to replace Keenum as starter.

    • Can we get back on topic?

      • Erik Petersen

        right, Jasper Johns… Still alive.

        • Jack

          Thanks for your post – I learned something today, didn’t know about that painting or painter.

  • lindblomeagles

    Apparently, history repeats itself too. Everybody forgets this, but at one point, states, schools, and colleges/universities BALKED at the idea of celebrating or memorializing Martin Luther King Jr. Their wasn’t a huggable moment immediately following King’s assassination either. King’s birthday was not observed until 1986, 18 years after his death. Utah BECAME THE LAST STATE to recognize MLK Day as a Federal holiday in the year 2000, 32 years after his assassination. If you think that’s something, you should read former FBI Director James Comey’s Opinion Article, dated February 7, 2019, entitled “Take Down the Confederate Statues Now.” The man whites don’t recognize in Comey’s letter? Former Confederate General James Longstreet.

  • Drew Magary going all Drew Magary