Colin Kaepernick and Patriotism

FLICKR.COM Mike Morbeck | PHOTO COURTESY Colin Kaepernick’s protest caused national outcry.
Colin Kaepernick’s protest caused a national outcry.

As many of you may know (if you follow the news), San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand up for the national anthem.

Kaepernick’s own words behind the act were “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

As expected, huge backlash erupted over this small but significant act of deviance.

I have seen people burn his jersey, call him disrespectful, ungrateful and hurl about every racial slur in the book.

It strikes me as ironic that most of the people who are outraged at Kaepernick’s actions are the same people who adamantly refuse PC (politically correct) culture. I would argue Kaepernick’s act is one of the most politically incorrect demonstrations I’ve ever seen, and yet it’s suddenly an act of disrespect.

So it’s perfectly legitimate to be deeply offended that someone is protesting the killings of unarmed people of color in this country, but oddly enough I heard radio silence from these same people when innocent men, women and children were killed for simply being a certain skin color.

Do you see how misplaced some people’s anger is here? If speaking up about injustice is offensive then I must be pretty unpleasant to be around.

Many argue that Kaepernick is privileged and is a rich famous football player who is throwing a tantrum.

However, he is not speaking solely for himself. He is speaking up with his massive platform for those who do not have a voice and have been historically silenced so we may feel better about ourselves.

Not everyone is as privileged as I am to have a MacBook to write about social issues. I am fortunate, and I’d be lying if I said my skin color didn’t have anything to do with it.

But this doesn’t make their situations any less real. It’s easy to prey on the oppressed because so often the odds have them losing everytime to greed and power. But things are changing. Social media has given the powerless a way to unite in the thousands and the millions at the touch of a button.

It’s harder to stifle and it’s harder to silence. These concepts are not new, but they are simply being recorded for us to take a long hard look in the mirror. People are scared at what they see and, for some, denial is all they have.

The amount of hate Kaepernick has gotten for simply stating his beliefs in a way that incredibly jeopardizes his career and reputation for something he himself believes so strongly in further highlights the need for such action.

It is his right to sit out the national anthem, and yes, it is your right to criticize him for it if you so please. But I urge you to open your mind just a little and try and see the perspective behind your personal lens that you view the world.

This country has historically not been kind to our fellow Americans. When the national anthem was written, slavery was still legal. Equality was not achieved then, and we still have a long way to go. It was not written with black Americans in mind.

Racial injustice is not fully in our review mirror yet. We must continue to take care of our own people not only as Americans, but humans. That’s what I believe this country stands for, and everyday I put the values of loving one another no matter how “different” they seem and always helping out your neighbor to use in everyday life.

Popular conservative pundit Tomi Lahren tweeted that if Kaepernick dislikes this country, he should just leave. I believe this act shows he cares more than most.

Kaepernick lives in America and faces racial prejudice, and he sees all the inequality that still seeps into our justice system today. Instead of turning a blind eye or fleeing, he decides to create awareness so we may solve this problem and make America better as a result.

Kaepernick didn’t sit down because he hates America, and I am deeply saddened he feels this is the measure he had to take because of the gross inequality we have in our society at this moment.

The reality is we can spend all day bickering amongst each other about what is disrespectful and what isn’t. Or we can tackle the real issues head on.

I have seen some people say, “Well, I agree with his message but the way he went about it was all wrong.”

Given you were born in the correct time period, would you also say to your friends “Well, I agree with Rosa Parks message but the way she went about it was all wrong”?

It takes these inflammatory acts of defiance to get a message across. No social movement has succeeded without pushing the envelope in some way. Unfortunately it’s how you get people to listen.

It’s crucial we pull ourselves away from the traditions and the things meant to divide us and actually look at the issue of systematic racism and ask ourselves how we can do better so that we actually mean it when we sing land of the free and home of the brave.

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