Editorial: Constructive social justice conversation is a good step

Eric Reid got what he wanted Sunday.

He was back in the NFL to play football, and through that opportunity he had the ability to reach millions about racial and social justice.

He kneeled for the national anthem.

We do not condone kneeling for “The Star Spangled Banner,” not for this or any other cause. We do share his desire for all people to be treated fairly.

Reid was signed Sept. 27 by the Carolina Panthers. In 2016, he was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick’s protests by kneeling during the national anthem of San Francisco 49ers games. Since hitting free agency, neither had been given a chance to play in the league again.

Our difference with his method aside, Reid is correct when he says, “Nothing will ever change unless you talk about it. So we’re going to continue to talk about it. We’re going to continue to hold America to the standards that it says on paper — that we’re all created equal.”

There’s a long way to go. Consider what happened in the week he signed.

Two days before, about 30 miles north of the Panthers’ stadium where Reid can reach millions, a smattering of fans were at a high school volleyball match between host Lake Norman and Mallard Creek. From the stands, chants of “USA! USA!” were heard when a Hispanic player from Mallard Creek was on the floor.

The Sunday after Reid signed, about 100 miles to the northwest, Appalachian State University officials were trying to determine who painted anti-Semitic symbols in a pedestrian tunnel. The graffiti showed a Jewish Star of David and the words “Holocaust was a good thing” and a swastika on a red flag with “Heil Hitler” written above it.

The tunnel is under busy Rivers Street, frequently used by everyone at the university from students to staff to faculty, and is frequently painted with murals. There is university policy for painting in the tunnel; graffiti like this is forbidden.

Within an hour of it being found, students had painted over it.

That’s part of the landscape with social justice, a term that can sometimes collect broad definition. There are inappropriate actions, such as the chants at the volleyball match and the paint at the college; there are also those who want to get it right, like the students who not only found the paint but took care of it themselves, and the administrators at the high school who will take action.

We’re not convinced of a single-best way to help our country treat everyone fairly and with dignity. It’s been troubled for centuries, well back to the American Indians.

Constructively talking about it is a point we can agree on. Rest assured, it needs to improve.