Today is Super Bowl Sunday. I’m rooting for the Falcons because “Atlanta” is an incredible T.V. show, Sean Spicer is a Patriots fan and Tom Brady plays golf with Donald Trump. Can you tell I don’t follow the NFL? But what I do follow is the social issues in our country. So let’s talk about something a little more up my alley, Colin Kaepernick.
I’ve been meaning to discuss Kaepernick for a while, but I couldn’t collect my thoughts and find the time to share them when he was most relevant. So, I’m using the Super Bowl as an excuse to post an un-timely, timely article. Okay, let’s get into it.
For those who don’t already know, Colin Kaepernick is the sometimes starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers (but he’s a free agent as of yesterday), but what he’s more known for is his political protests. This season he chose to kneel during the national anthem, rather than stand as traditionally (and “respectively”) done so.
When asked why he kneeled, Kaepernick explained to NFL media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He continued to explain, “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.”
I 100 percent stand (or kneel?) with Coin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s motivations are fueled by injustice and brutality acted out on minority groups in our country. When our anthem plays and our flag raises, he kneels to a submissive and dejected position as a powerful, beautiful and peaceful protest. This flag represents our nation, but our nation is unjust. Kaepernick’s protests took place following (and preceding) social media projections of police brutality. By simply typing “police brutality” into your Google search bar, you can watch people of color get beaten, tased, shot and killed by police. And notice I say “people” not “one person.” This police brutality is not new, it is continuing from decades of racist men and women in blue acting on systematic fear of people of color.
Now I am not anti-police for siding with Kaepernick, and Kaerpernick isn’t anti-police either. We are anti-racism, anti-brutality, anti-injustice. We stand for the equality of all people, and we demand the police who exist to “protect and serve” us to protect and serve all of us.
If you don’t believe police brutality is a problem in our country, or if you feel a need to exclaim “blue lives matter,” watch this video footage and tell me otherwise. If we can be really real here for a second, if you’re offended by Kaepernick kneeling while our national anthem plays, but not offended by the mass brutality and murder of people of color in our nation, you have to check yourself. And if you claim you’re offended by both, check yourself again, you may be confused.
Another popular argument against Kaepernick is that he is disrespecting our military, who fought for our rights and salute our flag during the anthem. The image below circulated with ferocious captions claiming Kaepernick was soulless, selfish, disrespectful, and some other explicit and blatantly racist words I’m not here to repeat.
Not only has Kaepernick expressed his full respect for our military, but he has explained his protesting in specific relation to our soldiers.
“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” he said. “I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. This country isn’t holding up their end of the bargain… men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.”
Do I agree? Yes. As a matter of fact, when I look at the image above, I see three men in uniform serving our country. Our military fights for our freedom overseas, risking their lives, bodies and mental health for our land. However, we don’t watch war on television every Sunday, we don’t know each soldier by name. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched events in the world. The NFL is a huge platform, NFL stars are household names. The massive platform Kaepernick received as an NFL quarterback made him a celebrity, and he did the right thing with his celebrity. While the military is fighting for our rights overseas, Colin Kaepernick is fighting for our rights in our own country.
Our country does not provide equal rights to every citizen. People of color are oppressed, victims of a system established to make them fail. The portrayal of minority groups in our media, both fiction and non-fiction, are designed to install fear in the white majority. For decades, members of our country attempted to break down these walls of prejudice, but Trump’s America isn’t pushing their fight forward.
We need Colin Kaepernick. The audience of the NFL is American, with people of every creed and color tuning in from game to game. With Kapernick being such a public sports figure, his voice is heard by Americans of every background and belief. Kaepernick opened the floor to a national discussion of race between those who support him and those who do not. I can only hope Kaepernick’s messages are positively influencing our nation, promoting people, in uniform and in day clothes, across the country to treat each other equally, with open minds free of prejudice. I also hope this article promoted his ideology, and I hope you are on the same side as the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I also hope the Falcons win the Super Bowl. Thanks for reading.
(Header Image Source: Getty Images Thearon W. Henderson)