We live in a solutions-oriented society; or at least a society that seeks “pass-the-buck solutions” attached to legitimate victim complaints rather than actually hearing out victims or their advocates. We live in a society where privileged groups often shifts the burden of aggrieved victims onto those victims themselves, when it is they who ought be working with the aggrieved to find real solutions to problems they simply deem inconvenient.
If there is a public discussion on an issue or social problem, you would be hard pressed not to leave that event without seeing or hearing a solutions platform to address the topic of discussion. If an individual brings to the attention of the members of an at fault group for a grievance or two of theirs, or those whom they advocate for, about anything, the members want to know what the aggrieved intends on doing about it. Folks in the solution-oriented camp argue that providing solutions drives people and society to be proactive rather than reactive; to be focused on outcomes rather than simply on problems. However it is easy to focus on a solution to a problem, rather than the problem itself, when the problem itself isn’t a problem for you. The truth is that for many people in this camp, a solution, deflects blame from them onto the aggrieved thus charging them with solving a problem not of their creation. There lies their commitment to accountability for this camp – the belief that one who offers a problem and/or complaint must be on the frontlines of developing a solution to it. Also, any problem-solving offers these campers the opportunity to justify their ignoring of the problem with the appearance of “closure” to a problem; that once there is a solution to a problem, the problem no longer exists, in theory, because it can be or is in the process of being solved.
The closure and accountability arguments are flawed; one is more dangerous than the other.
Closure can be defined differently by groups with opposing views. Compromise may be a solution, but it may not be closure. While much of our society is based on political, social and economic compromise, one must not assume that compromise provides all people with their desired closure. More dangerous than that is the non-aggrieved attributing to the aggrieved the lion’s share of the responsibility to solve a social problem of their creation. In the case of Colin Kaepernick and his detractors, the detractor’s desire to hold this “rabble-rouser” being Kaepernick accountable; they demand that he offer a solution. The detractors ask Kaepernick what the next steps will be. The detractors ask Kaepernick what they’ve done and/or will do to “fix” the problems he has laid out. The detractors historically assume, in many cases, Black people are the source for their own problems. This strategy; shifting the accountability from the society to the individual; is unfair and loaded with privilege. The shifting of accountability says, “this is a YOU problem, not an OUR problem so you fix it.” This is what the detractors are saying to Kaepernick once they engage beyond his protest activities. This strategy was on fully display by Jeffrey Lurie. However, Kaepernick has done the work. He has donated his own money to causes that may not be on the radar of Kaepernick’s detractors. The detractors are hypocrites. They are dividers. They seek to shift the narrative. As expressed before, Lurie has pit his example of righteous indignation (Malcolm Jenkins) against what he considers empty rhetoric (Colin Kaepernick), and to prove the difference, he made sure to give optics on what respectable protest looks like.
In some cases, just articulating the problem is solution enough. Bringing a social problem or reintroducing a social problem to the attention of masses is a solution in and of itself. The proof lies in the fallout. Colin Kaepernick’s solution to the problem of police killings of Black people was to draw national attention to the problem. He introduced it to some while reacquainting it with others. For his action, he has been criticized and vilified. He has brought unwanted attention to his workplace and he sacrificed his job because of it. However, that is not enough for Kaepernick’s critics. They’ve asked for his next steps. They asked him what he is going to do to “create” the changes he’s advocated for. Even after giving $900K of a million dollar donation pledge, critics still discredit his advocacy. Folks like Jeffrey Lurie say Kaepernick is disrespectful. Folks like Lurie dodge racism and White Supremacy and speak of economic issues instead because its more comfortable to do. The critics should ask these questions of themselves; what do they intend on doing to offer a solution to this particular social problem or do they not believe police killings of Black people is a problem at all. Rich Black men get pulled over; rich Black men get racially profiled and rich Black men are subject to the cowardice of officers within the rank and file sworn to protect them who are afraid of them. The fact is that Colin Kaepernick is not the reason why Blacks are killed by police. The pundits and the critics should get to the bottom of the reason and bring their own solutions to the table; instead of preaching respectability to satisfy White guilt.