Colin Kaepernick (1987- ), an American football player, is a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. In 2013 he led them to the Super Bowl, the National Football League (NFL) championship. This past week he has been all over the news in the US for – not standing during a song, “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Americans, from the time they are schoolchildren, are taught to stand and face the flag during “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the US national song.
“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.”
White racists on Twitter went nuts, calling him the N-word and all that. Fans were burning his red #7 jersey:
It seemed like everyone except Hillary Clinton had an opinion.
Kaepernick’s birth mother:
“There’s ways to make change w/o disrespecting & bringing shame to the very country & family who afforded you so many blessings.”
“I think it’s a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.”
The Santa Clara police union:
“If the 49ers organization fails to take action to stop this type of inappropriate workplace behavior, it could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities.”
President Obama, by way of his press secretary, Josh Earnest:
“Even as objectionable as we find his perspective, he certainly is entitled to express them.”
“When a Black voice is raised in protest to oppression, those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it.”
“You got a whole lot of Black men who can throw touchdowns, very few Black men who can become similar to another Muhammad Ali … right now in my mind Colin is the greatest in the NFL.”
Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War even though it got him kicked out of boxing. Kaepernick likewise knows this could get him kicked out of football.
White fragility: Deep down most White people know he is right. That is why many get so upset – and make it about everything except police brutality: his tactics, his wealth, his rights, his supposed lack of respect for the military, etc. When they do bring up police brutality, it is only to play it down.
White paternalism: Many also see him through a lens of White paternalism: How dare you! After all we have done for you! How ungrateful! Leave if you do not like it here. How come no one talks like that to Donald Trump? He too is rich and yet complains. How ungrateful. He too should leave.
Protest grows: Teammate Eric Reid and Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks are no longer standing either.
– Abagond, 2016.
- The Star-Spangled Banner – it has a racist history, but Kaepernick may not have known that.
- Black athletes and protest:
- White fragility
- White paternalism
- The N-word