Colin Kaepernick..*sigh* You wound me. I expected more out of you, bro.
Before I delve into the Kaepernick situation, and before I join countless others in giving my opinion on his methods of protest, allow me to preface with the following: though these days are tough, I am an avid San Francisco 49ers fan. Lest any man should doubt, there it is, in writing. My older brother is largely responsible for this. I can remember playing the original Nintendo at the age of 5 years old, dropping Hail Mary’s to Jerry Rice game after game. I was beast, let me tell you. Alas, I digress. Today, the 49ers are a different team. After a sudden rise that culminated in (what I would consider to be) a robbed Super Bowl loss, they’ve ended the last two seasons in poor fashion. In case you’re not caught up, let me fill you in. At one point, Colin Kaepernick was the wonder kid. Ex-49ers quarterback Alex Smith was injured, Kaepernick assumed the starting position, the 49ers marched their way to a Super Bowl, and Alex Smith now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, poor Kaepernick is a 19 million dollar bench warmer with an Afro. And yes, it is the worst.
By now, everyone knows Kaepernick first remained seated, and then took a knee, during the playing of the National Anthem. He stated that he was “taking a stance because of recent wrong-doings to African Americans and minorities.” He went on to say, “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.”
First, though I strongly disapprove of the methods Kaepernick is employing to convey his message, I am supportive of his presumed end-goal; that is, to further shine a light on the racism and that exists in this country, and seek to eliminate it. To me, this seems reasonable. Racism is an undeniably present force in this country, and ideally society, it will someday be eradicated. Clearly, Kaepernick does have a justified stance, though possibly not as convincing as he would have us believe.
Kaepernick’s references to the wrong-doings of African Americans and minorities, as well as his statement regarding the oppression of black people, certainly pertain to the recent shootings of black males. Though I firmly condemn the actions of these police officers, here’s what the statistics show. The Washington Post published a study that analyzed the casualty count by law enforcement officials in 2015: 494 white suspects were killed, compared to 258 black suspects killed. Just something to think about.
As I mentioned earlier, I respect Kaepernick’s decision to protest and I respect the matter of which he is protesting. What I contest is the manner by which he protests. I believe being an American is more than continually justifying one’s actions under the guise of freedom of speech. Yes, we have this right; yes, we should exercise this right. But we must also respect those who afford us this right. Call me old-fashioned, but I am simply unable to justify Kaepernicks actions during the National Anthem by slapping on the ol’ First Amendment reference.
Simply put, it’s wrong.
Oh, and one more thing. Why he would sit for the National Anthem when that’s the only opportunity he has to stand for the entirety of the game? In the words of Keyshawn Johnson, “Come on, man!!”