American culture is hypocritical. We brand ourselves as the pinnacle of democracy and freedom, yet we seem to forget that our country was built on the oppression of others.
In our current era of de facto segregation, racism still exists as a mechanism to set up impossible standards that black public figures have to meet in order to be accepted by the public. Black public figures are often held to higher standards because of racist attempts to prove that there is no such thing as a black representative that fits the perfect American model.
In the National Football League (NFL), for example, when Colin Kaepernick knelt in protest during the national anthem, all hell broke loose. Kaepernick did this to bring awareness to police brutality against the black community in order to make the issue visible on a bigger platform.
But this came at a heavy cost to his career. After that season, Kaepernick became a free agent and no team picked him up. In 2017, he filed a lawsuit against the NFL for job discrimination on the grounds of advocating for social justice and equality.
If Megan Rapinoe, a white, LGBTQ soccer star can do the same thing and just get a slap on the wrist from the United States Soccer Federation, why did it end Kaepernick’s career?
It’s almost like the NFL punished Kaepernick for “taking advantage” of the opportunity that he was given to play professional football even though he had the natural talent and physical abilities to earn him the chance to be on a professional team.
Once a black public figure is outspoken in any way, their credibility and image are discredited because it’s almost offensive to racist America that they could even think of speaking out against the continual oppression that the black community faces.
And of course, we can’t forget about how America tore the Obama family to pieces during the eight years they spent in the White House.
Whether it was the humiliation of having to provide his birth certificate to prove his citizenship, the backlash for wearing a tan suit, or being called a liar during a presidential addresses to Congress, the criticism didn’t end with just Barack Obama.
Michelle Obama was scrutinized for dressing “inappropriately” as the first lady by wearing sleeveless dresses and gowns. Really, have we not seen what Melania Trump wears?
Let’s also not forget how Trump supporters blew Malia Obama’s underage drinking way out of proportion. What college kid hasn’t had an underage drink? Shouldn’t we be talking about the fact that Donald Trump’s kids had to go through training to teach them not to steal money from the “charities” they run?
The Obamas were held to the highest standards while they were in office and it’s as if they had to walk on eggshells with every single move they made or else they’d get torn down. They were expected to behave with perfect decorum at all costs but by the standards of opposing racists.
The Obamas were not seen as a legitimate public image to represent America just for the classic racist excuse that has been around since the foundation of our country: because of the color of their skin.
This idea extends to all black public figures. The double standard that the black community is forced to uphold reinforces the fact that racism still exists in America and no matter how much we progress as a society, we will still continue benefiting off of the oppression of others.