Thank You, DJT: A Critical Reflection on Race, Justice and America Herself

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Today I was hopeful. I was hopeful because I witnessed several NFL teams defy our current president, DJT, who a famous sports host labeled correctly a “racist and white supremacist,” and who a famous NBA star called “a bum.” DJT had, even before he was elected, ignited a national sense of urgency to resist social injustice in the so-called “mighty USA.”

However, his recent attack on Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who courageously exercised their uniquely American rights and heritage of resistance and freedom. It is actually extremely ironic that many people, such as our “bum” president, criticize those of us who stand up and speak out on injustices, such as police’s cold-blooded murder of black people such as Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sheila Bland, etc., etc., etc. (or by people pretending to be police, such as what happened to Trayvon Martin).

The irony is that Americans should celebrate and join those of us who speak out against injustice in our society. For goodness sake, this is what our country was supposedly founded upon, although initially did not live up to. No one said it better than the late great Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, when he delivered the bicentennial speech at the annual seminar of the San Francisco Patent & Trademark Law Association in 1987.

About “We the People,” the first three words of our Constitution, Marshall said, “… On a matter so basic as the right to vote, for example, Negro slaves were excluded, although they were counted for representational purposes at three-fifths each. Women did not gain the right to vote for over 130 years ...” His point, of course, is that everyone in this country was not included in this statement, “We the People.”

I strongly urge every American to read his words and consider its credibility on its own merits. I read it to whoever I am around on every July 4th. Unfortunately, Mr. DJT, America was not initially the country that other countries should emulate and try to pattern themselves after.

It’s only because of those who fought for the Union in the Civil War and the civil rights, women’s rights and LBGTQI rights movements in this country that America has begun to live up to her “promise.” It is only because of the type of protest and resistance found in these movements that America has begun to deserve the honor and glory that many have fought for and died for.

Prior to the Civil War, and subsequent social justice movements, such as the civil rights movement, America was literally just a theory, a wonderful and splendid theory, but a theory nonetheless. In practice, prior to the Civil War and civil rights movements, America was a lie and nothing to be proud of at all.

This brings me to my core point. Ironically, the Charlottesville murder of a true patriot, Heather Heyer, that DJT did not adequately deal with — instead choosing to defend the racist murderer(s) who killed her and wounded so many others that fateful day, is what crystallized these ideas for me.

DJT was defending those racists who were defending those who fought to keep slavery intact. This is consistent with DJT’s so-called defense of “all soldiers” just for being soldiers, when he attacks Kaepernick and others who kneel during the national anthem in the presence of all those soldiers on the field at NFL games.

First of all, not all soldiers should be honored and celebrated in the same way. Some soldiers, such as those who fought in defense of the Confederacy, or those soldiers who did not want black soldiers next to them or with them in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc., should not be honored.

I personally do not respect nor honor soldiers who had racism in their hearts, minds and souls. I understand and join many of those Americans who do not respect and honor them as well. Therefore, Kaepernick and others who take a knee during the national anthem are actually displaying our best and most honorable principles and traditions because they are calling attention to the racist, unjust and hypocritical conditions in this country, many of which still remain today.

So thank you, DJT. I appreciate the help. Anything anyone can do to get more people to stand up (or kneel down) and speak out against racists such as yourself is so very much welcomed. Just for the record, because it is not about me, I want to verify my credibility to make these comments.

I am a black man who happens to both have lived under a racist police state as a youth in Paterson, New Jersey and who has been studying, researching and teaching about the problem of racism in our juvenile and criminal justice systems for the past 20-plus years. I am also an associate professor of social work at a university in New York City and I have been researching and publishing on this topic for two decades.

In closing, I sincerely do thank you, DJT, for rallying the troops for social justice, human rights and real equality. Hundreds of NFL players would have never acted today had it not been for your idiotic and disrespectful comments about them and their mothers. Peace, family, but keep fighting. I’d rather stand up and die with honor on 125th Street than lie down and live without honor in an apartment on 5th Avenue, Mr. DJT.

Edgar Tyson, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in New York. He has been a researcher and educator for 14 years and a practitioner, specializing in treatment of high-risk and delinquent youth, for the past 21 years.

15 thoughts on “Thank You, DJT: A Critical Reflection on Race, Justice and America Herself

  1. Dr. Tyson, I admire your courage to publicly express that you do not respect nor honor soldiers who had/have racism in their hearts. I personally think many Americans feel this way as well; however, they do not express the complexity of their views for the fear of being perceived as not being patriotic or supporting the country. I respect our troops and the soldiers who risk their lives to protect the country we call home, but I do not respect individuals who use their own agendas and abuse power to instill on people what a soldier or citizens should believe in. I believe DJT is one of those individuals who is using his power to fit his own agenda of ego to dictate what America as a whole should believe in. I do not want to be told what I can and cannot stand with. That is a dictatorship and not the ideas America was built upon.

  2. Absolutely on point. Every protest against racial injustice seems to be framed as a protest against “the flag” or “All Lives Matter” when the painful discourse turns to racial and socioeconomic inequity. Protests spark uncomfortable conversations that should lead to advances in the human condition. Thank you for recognizing DJT as being a repulsive catalyst in this movement and for the very important work you execute through your scholarship.

  3. Dr. Tyson, Thank you for all of the work you do for social change, social justice and our youth. I appreciate your contributions, your leadership for education and for providing thought-provoking information to help others develop and grow. You have done it again with this article. Please do not stop creating other “social agents” for change. As community change specialist, we must have a loud voice and must support this movement. #life’spurpose #legacy

    I am looking forward to the next article.

    With much respect.

  4. I strongly agree that social justice movements have prompted change in our society. The actions of the NFL players show how people are using different platforms to speak out and promote social change.

  5. Thanks for powerfully covering such important topics. I appreciate you shedding light on the truth – the parts of United States history that are violent, racist, sexist, and shameful – facts in which much of the US population seems to ‘conveniently’ overlook or least deny the relevance of today. I believe that DJT and his supporters deem it easier to simply display continuous “USA PRIDE” without questioning anything, as well as accuse anyone who fights for social justice of “hating” America. Not only is this an ignorant deflection, but it’s also dangerous. It’s killing people. And it will continue to until this country is finally able to take a hard look at ourselves and become ready to learn and make significant changes.

  6. Thank you for calling attention to Justice Thurgood Marshall’s bicentennial speech. His words act as an important reminder about the exclusivity of the Constitution. We cannot forget this reality – especially as injustices continue to occur on a daily basis in the U.S.

  7. Protest is patriotic. Thank you Dr. Tyson for reminding others of that on a continual basis. The president should be the one taking a knee, and hopefully he will be when the Russia investigation is concluded. Like slavery, Jim Crow, police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, etc., DJT will forever be a stain on this country and continue to provide proof for why America is, as you pointed out, merely a theory.

    • Thank you JC. The strength in your words is what’s desperately needed. DJT is not what this country is about. Ironically, he is however what will unite this country. For examole, your insights and knowledge is what this country is about and DJT has caused many Americans to speak up and speak out. I appreciate you and your passion. Thank you.

  8. Thanks Prof. Tyson-for speaking truth to power, for amplifying the voice of justice in this country, and for pulling the curtain back on the story of the USA.

    Please continue to speak the truth because, as we know, only the truth shall set us free!

  9. preach that truth my brother we all need 2 b aware that this character that’s posing as our President is a master of organized kaos but what he veiws as talking points r issues of actual relevemce 2 most of us especially people of color the kicker is he’s missing the point no one is disrespecting anything just bringing recognition 2 a life or death situation we as blacks deal with on the regular we must stay WOKE now particularly with this CLOWN as president really love & appreciate how U covered this my brother never been more proud STAYUP

  10. Thank you Mr. Tyson for your fearlessness in stating the truth of DJT and our country. Those sports celebrities who characterized DJT were spot on in the truth of their assessments of him and I applaud their fearlessness as well. To all those who would speak on the condition of the USA, I say “TELL THE TRUTH “!!!

  11. I as a black man who knows the struggle that we are in and have been in for more than 400 years, completely understand where Dr. Tyson is coming from. For those who are blindfolded to the harsh reality of racism in the USA, shame on you and your parents for not teaching you the basic reality of life in the USA. Shame on your ignorance and may you wake up and take the blindfolds off one day and join the fight that Dr. Tyson and I and others continue to engage in everyday. Racist America (those that are such) you are blind and you are the true ignorant people, not the African slaves and their ancestors, such as myself. No, I’m not the “nigger”, you are (ignorant).

    • Thank you my brother. It is humbling, tiring and lonely to keep having to fight this fight. Comments such as yours keeps me motivated to fight for true change and transformation in this society. Peace.

  12. This is a man who as he said lived the pain of black youth in this country. He knows of what he talks. I witnessed his journey and his emergence from the hell of which he speaks.

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