Professional athletes across the United States of America are using their celebrity platform to call attention to multigenerational racial injustices against African Americans. At sporting events across this nation, muscle-toned quadriceps are giving way to the gravity of “Taking a Knee” in resistance to the national anthem while professional camera operators and amateur camera phoned fans document patella-pitted turf. In the wake of this star-studded display of racial consciousness, we are meeting the Three Ps of “Taking a Knee”. The first two Ps have been well documented, if not held as a two-legged straw man upon which many have repeatedly repackaged to distinguish the problem from the protest. While the nuance between these two Ps is a pre-requisite to comprehending the significance of the moment, it is the third P — policy — that requires acute attention for liberty and justice to be achieved for all. Unfortunately, too few Americans have access to a layman’s understanding of the specific municipal, state, or federal policies which undergird the rise in popularity of the symbolic fallen stance.
Simply put, policies determine the lawful — subjectively speaking — governing of people. The social contract upon which our democracy is based is wrought with tongue-twisting legislative lingo. Much like the amalgamation of letters, numbers, and other characters used to form the code of today’s technology revolution, our forefathers crafted their own language of legal cipher complete with a complex logic of loopholes, exclusions, and special interests.
Recognizing the indications of a given policy’s impact on individual racial and ethnic groups is a much more straightforward process than decoding the associated legislative verbiage. To be sure, the intellectual capacity of people is not being called into question. Moreover, there must be an increase in opportunities for everyday citizens to become as intimately aware of the policies and practices which inform the governing of their communities as they are with the athletes demanding their change.
The technical aspect of writing policy is one part art, one part litigious, and all parts political. Reaching the idyllic homeostasis of racial equity — the achievement of a set of conditions in which policies, markets, and all other areas of society work equally well for those comprising any and all ethnic and racial groups — will require an unparalleled knowledge share movement. The enormous undertaking required to build the literacy, comprehension, and collective understanding of how to navigate policy-making processes amongst citizens should not paralyze professionals working in and around spheres of social justice movements.
Policy makers, system changers, and each and every athlete standing for social justice by kneeling must be equipped to communicate clear, accessible, and multilingual communication for constituents which focus on the specific policies needing revision, elimination, or creation along with actionable steps on how to influence outcomes for change. The problem will persist and the protest will subsequently ensue until specific policy shifts necessary for systemic change are named.