Where do you stand? Colin Kaepernick’s actions tell his message loud and clear
Last Thursday marked the start of football season. The two teams who made it to last year’s Super Bowl, Broncos and Panthers, were facing off again.
The game started like any other game would.
The national anthem started to play and everyone stood up except for one player: Brandon Marshall. As a result, he lost his endorsement deal with the Air Academy Federal Credit Union and faced immense public backlash.
This movement started with Colin Kaepernick, who didn’t stand for the national anthem during preseason games and most recently before the 49ers’ loss to the Green Bay Packers last week. Kaepernick refused to stand as a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Kaepernick has also been spotted wearing socks that depict police officers as pigs.
Whether or not you think that Kaepernick was just looking for attention or that it was uncalled for, I support Kaepernick’s decision to not stand.
“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 said in an NFL Media interview. “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.”
Kaepernick is a public figure that has the attention of millions of people. He is passionate about an issue and he wants to show his passion in the form of peaceful protest. Kaepernick risks losing future or current endorsement deals and his fans. There are videos online of people burning his jersey and commentators condemning his actions.
The 49ers’ quarterback is not merely riding on the coattails of a movement. He donated $1 million to organizations that focus on racial issues. He is donating all of his jersey sales back to underprivileged communities. His protests and passion are genuine. The situation is more than Kaepernick not standing, it is him taking real action to make a difference. He acknowledged that the issues in this country are something that’s bigger than the sport he’s been playing his whole life.
Many are calling Kaepernick unpatriotic. The national anthem is ingrained into our every day lives with elementary and high schools reciting the anthem daily. It may be unpatriotic to not stand for the anthem, but to limit someone’s right to speech is even worse. Freedom of speech and protests are basic principles this country was founded upon – so how can we deny them to our citizens?
Others argue that Kaepernick is being paid millions to play a sport he loves and most can only dream to be in the position he’s in. America is one of the few countries Kaepernick can have this job – if he doesn’t like this country, he should leave. The problem with this argument is that it’s Kaepernick’s status as a rich and privileged individual that gives him the platform to speak about what he believes in. Other athletes including Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade have also used their status to speak on the matter, so why can’t Kaepernick?
Just because the quarterback is currently a famous athlete, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t faced racial profiling or anything of that sort in the past. The president of our country has spoken about how he has been racially profiled in the past. It doesn’t matter where Kaepernick is now, his experiences matter and he knows he can’t forget about them.
One of the last arguments that people make is that Kaepernick is disrespecting people who have fought or are fighting for our freedom – this is a valid argument. However, these are people who are fighting and have fought for our rights and one of those rights is free speech. Kaepernick is not trying to insult veterans or those still serving, he is trying to make a point the best way he knows how.
Kaepernick’s simple action caused an outrage that had people talking about whether or not it was disrespectful and if racial issues need to be spoken about more openly. I’m in full support of Kaepernick to take a stand by not standing.
Brian Lara is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org