San Fransico 49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick is in some pretty hot water. This past weekend, Kaepernick refused to stand during the traditional playing of the national anthem before a pre-season football game. Although this isn’t the first time that he’s done this sort of protest, it is in fact the first time the world took notice and let me tell you, white folks are pissed off.
To be fair, I’m going to assume that you know I don’t mean all white people. However, you know the type of white folks I’m talking about here and of course they’re of the “build the wall” and “go back to (insert ethnic place of origin here)” variety. They say he’s disrespecting america and that he doesn’t support our nations veterans, which isn’t true at all. Not only that, they’re burning the jersey that bears his name, all because he decided to invoke his first amendment right.
When it was finally noticed that Kaepernick didn’t stand for the national anthem as his teammates had in their losing effort against the Green Bay Packers, media attention immediately flocked to the 6-year veteran after the game, and he had no reservations about why he made the silent potest. While speaking to reporters at his locker, he said:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
This caused an uproar with the tobacco chewing, flag waving constituancy, but Kaepernick doubled down on his stance following team practice Sunday morning with :
” This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all — and it’s not happening for all right now..This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change, so I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do that for people that can’t. The fact that it has blown up like this, I think is a good thing. Now I think people are really talking about it, having conversations about how to make change, what’s really going on in this country and we can move forward…I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed…If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.””
To those who don’t watch professional football or even to the casual view, Collin Kaepernick’s position may seem to have come out of no where. However, I’ve seen and heard about Kaepernick’s counter culture rebelliousness for years. He’s railed against the stigma’s and stereotypes of black quarterbacks since he was in college. He loves rap music and is covered in tattoos, which isn’t out of the norm these days, but it’s definitely revolutionary for a starting NFL quarterback who’s images are normally squeaky clean.
“NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.” David Whitley, Sporting News
To be clear, certain white people have had a disdain for Kaepernick since his rise to success a few years ago, simply because he is who he is and makes no apologies for it, however his overall sense of blackness may be due to being adopted by his white parents as an infant. While he didn’t have any interaction with his black father, his family remained supportive to refining and enriching his cultural identity. They talked to him about race, purchased books for him about growing up as a black youth and his mother even used to drive over an hour from their home so Collin could get his hair braided like his idol, Allen Iverson.
To that, I say bravo.
It’s extremely important to raise a child who recognizes who he/she is and where they come from. It’s even more important for that child to grow up and know how to fully navigate the dual existence that exists in America, especially for blacks. There seems to be a notion amongst many that one can earn their way out out oppression simply because of what one makes in dollars. That couldn’t be further from the truth and Collin Kaepernick is a testament of that. He makes around $12 million dollars and that didn’t keep him from making the kind of statement he made. It doesn’t keep him blinded to unarmed black men being killed in police shootings. It also doesn’t prevent him from realizing how marginalized black people have become in this country. Furthermore, and most importantly, it didn’t stop him from putting his career on the line for something he believes firmly in.