Over the last 48 hours, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has received a ton of backlash for his refusal to stand during the signing of the United States national anthem. Kaepernick has been given a lot of harsh criticism from the fans, media, and players whether it is fair or not is entirely debatable. In an exclusive interview, Kaepernick told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche the following reason why he refused to stand for the national anthem:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. 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”.
Once the explanation was given, it became very clear that Kaepernick did nothing wrong in expressing himself for standing for what he believed in.
This is supposed to be a country where freedom of expression and speech is practiced right? So why exactly is Kaepernick receiving so much heat for his actions?
This is where the problem comes in. First and foremost, Kaepernick expressed clearly how he feels about standing during the national anthem instead of the recent events across the country involving police killing African Americans. Kaepernick is not the first athlete to take a stand to raise awareness for issues facing minorities in this country. Superstar athletes such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, among other WNBA players have displayed actions in which they condemned the police killings of African Americans and the treatment of minorities in this country.
It is an absolute disgrace to many who express hateful and treacherous feelings towards him, especially on social media. We live in a time in this nation where repeatedly the one who stands up for social injustice (especially in a non-violent manner) are admonished and or quickly excommunicated as an “American”. So when we are told to “hush up and just accept what it is,” that is despicable given the fact that we have a right in this country to “Freedom of Speech” as per First Amendment. Does this only apply to the ones who are doing the oppression yet the expectation is for the oppressed to remain silent??
Two major points address two types of individuals that must be addressed in this matter. The first group of people who say to Kaepernick “If you don’t like it you can pack and leave”, while the second group of individuals who say “You have a $114 million dollar contract, what exactly have you done to help fix the social injustices and atrocities that have been going on for too long in this country”?
The first group of people who have expressed such sentiment proves the point that was previously made about the ones doing the oppressing expected the oppressed to remain silent. Kaepernick is not the only man of color who sees and feels what is going on today is wrong, yet he decides to make a stand for what he believes in without vandalizing or looting public neighborhoods and business. The reality is that people who silently stand by what is happening, are the same ones who are hurling the sentiment of “you don’t like it, you can pack your bag and leave”. The damning thing about it, is that there are many people who feel that he’s un-American and or even worse, call the man an n***** simply because he had become tired of seeing the injustices done on a daily basis (the ones that you do and don’t hear about on the news in this country). So do him a favor and yourselves a favor and cut the nonsense out about him taking a stand for what he believes in by not standing for the national anthem.
The second group of people who also point out what has he done to fix the injustices in this country based on the money that he makes are both hypocritical and unequivocally deflecting responsibility from themselves, so they’re free from the problem. The reality is that whether he has or hasn’t done anything to fight the injustices that have been going on in this country isn’t the only issue here. What has you or I or your next door neighbor did to help create change and necessary change within the communities in this country?
People with money and economic power can make a huge difference, yet they are NOT they only ones who can and should make a difference. There’s a famous saying that goes “You shouldn’t be throwing stones if you live in a glass house” and the ones who are doing the most criticizing are the ones who may very well be the ones throwing the stones.
As a natural born citizen myself, it is very important to point out this immensely important point. Just because you live in the United States, does not mean you suddenly become sheep-like and just accept garbage that is thrown you way regardless of who you are. Even more so for the minorities in this country, there comes the point in time you demonstrate what you feel about what is going on around you, and you have a right to display, march, silently sit out national anthems while being respectful to your fellow man.
Just because Kaepernick sits out the national anthem does not mean he does not respect his country, rather he is not going to stand pat and go against his very beliefs and if it makes him a very unpopular person then so be it. At the end of the day, it takes a very strong minded individual to stand up for what he feels is right even in a sea of popularity where he will stick out like a sore thumb. It is very possible to love this country, to respect the country you are in, without accepting what you see and feel is wrong. Kaepernick did exactly just that.
That is why Kaepernick has every right not to stand during the national anthem.