BY TRONE DOWD
A certain sector of politically aware football fans were up in arms this week after San Francisco Giants quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take what he called “a stand against injustice.”
This season, the two-time Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year has refused to stand during the National Anthem. He recently shared his reasons as to why with the NFL media after a game last Friday.
“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. “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’s controversial stand against certain key ideas in the national anthem in response to violence against the black community has not been popular. He is hardly the first athlete to take such action, as legend Jackie Robinson did the same during his time playing in Major League Baseball. Despite this, Kaepernick has received backlash from political commentators, conservatives and sports analysts alike. In fact, it is said that top NFL executives have anonymously gone on record with Bleacher Report saying they “despise him” and “truly, truly hate him.”
“I don’t want him anywhere near my team,” another front office executive told Bleacher Report. “He’s a traitor.” Some fans have asked for the team to release him or punish him in some fashion. Others agree that they don’t want Kaepernick to work in the league ever again. Despite the backlash however, Kaepernick has said that he will continue to sit out the national anthem until further notice.
For many, there is an unperceived disconnect between what they want from America and what they want to see.
Many of those who would criticize Kaepernick, especially ones who lean to the far right in today’s political climate, are hypocrites to do so. They take issue with a football player not standing during the national anthem but refuse to take issue with the racist and offensive bombast that often comes out of the mouths of their most prominent figures in the political and entertainment worlds. They claim that the new generation is “weak” and denounce actual issues with racist rhetoric as “political correctness” run amok. They hold tightly to the idea of freedom of speech when it applies to disparaging other races, but in the same breath will cry outrage when those rights are acted upon by a black man.
In fact, presidential candidate Donald Trump has created an entire presidential campaign on taking issue with America. Nearly none of his supporters have flinched, instead continuing their support of the controversial businessman-turned-politician until he won the nomination of his party. Clearly, there are millions of Americans that agree the country has plenty room for improvement.
But somehow, the idea of pointing out and criticizing this country’s many issues is considered heinous and disrespectful when it is on behalf of the injustices done to the black community.
Those calling for the end of Colin Kaepernick’s football career should take time to ask themselves: Do they take issue with Kaepernick’s actions despite his right to do so as an American citizen? Or do they take issue with the fact that an influential black man in one of the country’s largest sports institutions is taking such a bold stance against the racial issues that has plagued this country since its conception? Issues that so many Americans refuse to acknowledge, no matter how many unarmed men and women of color are killed solely based on the color of their skin or the choice of their religion.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, email@example.com or @theloniusly