Colin Kaepernick takes a stand, by not standing

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From Muhammad Ali to Jackie Robinson, athletes have voiced their opinions on decisions made by this country.

In 1967, Ali stood up against the U.S. draft, refusing to be sent overseas. He was arrested for his actions. Jackie Robinson on the other hand fought for African American rights in Baseball, becoming the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball.

On Friday, Aug. 26 during a week three preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick decided not to stand for the national anthem.

“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 told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “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 decision to bring light to racial oppression was the right thing to do. Other athletes in his position should use their money, authority and cultural influence to push fans into thinking about the injustices in our society.

He is 100 percent correct that there needs to be change to those oppressed in this country and not enough has been done. Until something is done we should all stand by Kaepernick.

Some – such as Tami Lahren internet and television host – believe that, because of the money Kaepernick makes, he is not in the right to talk about oppression and injustice to minorities in this country.

The amount of money someone earns should not determine whether they have the right to talk about critical political issues such as racial injustice. If anything, this monetary leverage puts athletes in a position to push for changes.

According to an Adweek/Harris Poll,  the NFL is watched by two-thirds of American adults watch weekly. This national stage allows for Kaepernick to have media coverage of his views and opinions. People need to know about what is going on because there are still people believe that racial injustice and inequality isn’t happening in the U.S.

For example, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics, white Americans use illegal drugs more than black Americans, but black Americans are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as whites.

Kaepernick is specifically talking about police brutality to African-Americans as well as inequality between races in the U.S.

Anybody that thinks Kaepernick not standing for the anthem means he hates America and disrespects people that fought and lost their lives for this country is not thinking about the issue correctly. Kaepernick is holding America to a higher standard, stating America is great because of the reasons of freedom, but unfortunately it is not being given equally to everyone.

Kaepernick said about the current state of the U.S., “You have Hillary who has called black teens or black kids ‘super predators.’ You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who has deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person you’d be in prison. So, what is this country really standing for?”

The purpose of Kaepernick’s cause is not being shown clearly because he is being misrepresented as anti-American who hates the military.

People that cannot look past kneeling during the anthem, and see what the reasons are behind his cause, are part of the problem Kaepernick is trying to deal with.

Kaepernick was not the only athlete to kneel for the anthem in the week four preseason game.

Teammate Eric Reid knelt right next to Kaepernick as the anthem played through the stadium in San Diego on the Chargers “Salute to the Military” night.

While the stadium booed at their decision, Reid explained their reasoning for kneeling after the game.

Reid discussed that he is kneeling for the same reasons as Kaepernick, saying there are too many issues to pick one particularly, but the flooding in Louisiana has hit close to home for him. Attending school at Louisiana State University and he feels it is part of his job to stand up for others in this country.

“I talked to Kaepernick today before the game. We were wondering if there was a way to bring up these issues. People said it was disrespectful for him to sit down, so he decided we should take a knee instead of sitting. That came off as more respectful to the country, to the anthem, to the military. And I agree with that,” Reid said in an interview with reporters after the fourth preseason game.

“It shows Kaepernick hears the people that were hurt by him sitting, but he still believes in the cause he wants to bring awareness to,” said Reid. “So he changed his physical position from sitting down to taking a knee to still show respect to the anthem and the military while supporting his cause.”

Kaepernick understands people do not like that he was disrespecting the flag even though that was not his intention. It is as much his right to stand up for his cause as it is for people to bash him for it.

Kaepernick not only was shown standing and applauding the military members and veterans during the San Diego Chargers celebration, but has also said he will donate the first million dollars of his paycheck to charities that focus on racial issues, as well as the proceeds of his jersey sales, which are currently first in the NFL.

People continue to say he is not doing anything about the these issues and sitting for the national anthem is causing more harm than good, other than donating money and bringing these issues to light, I don’t know what anyone expects from one football player to do.

Since the initial start of the movement in the week three preseason game, many other athletes across multiple sports have either backed or disagreed with what Kaepernick is doing.

Rodney Harrison, former NFL Safety, said, “I’ll tell you this, I’m a black man and Colin Kaepernick, he’s not black. He cannot understand what I face and what other black men and black people face on an every single (day) basis.”

Harrison later retracted his statement after finding out Kaepernick is half African American.

That’s flat out wrong.

Your race should not determine whether you are allowed to speak out on critical issues, such as racial inequality in this nation, especially if he is in favor of helping.

Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks sat for the national anthem during his week four preseason game, following Kaepernick’s lead, as well as Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos who knelt during the season opener of the NFL season.

I applaud these athletes, it is definitely hardest to be the leader in Kaepernick’s situation, but it is just as hard if not harder to be the next few people to follow his lead.

Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder for team USA Women’s Soccer, knelt during the national anthem of one her club games and was very critical when talking about how she felt about the situation at hand.

“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now,” said Rapinoe. “I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”

Rapinoe also said, “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

Rapinoe shows how not only is there racial problems within our society, but other problems as well such as gay rights equality.

Kaepernick has clearly gained the attention of many, sparking debates, as well as gaining a spike in twitter followers rising 35,394 percent over the last two weeks because of a tweet by ESPN reporter Darren Rovell.

Kaepernick is delivering a message from those without a voice. There are major problems within our country and these issues need to be addressed or nothing will ever be done.

Other athletes such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade have taken the national stage to address these issues as well, speaking at the night of the ESPYS, an award ceremony to honor athletes every year through the American Broadcast Television.

Maybe Kaepernick heard something James said toward the end of the groups speech, “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘What are we doing to create change?’ Let’s use this moment as a call to action for all athletes to educate ourselves. We all have to do better.”

Unlike the NFL, the NBA does not allow its players the choice whether to stand or sit during the national anthem.

If the government does not want to step into place and try to make our country a more equal place for all, others with social influence must state their opinions on a national level in order to create discussion between people.

Kaepernick is attempting to bring light to a national issue, racial inequality, that needs to be addressed on the national stage he is given once a week.

Not only should athletes stand up for what they believe in, but others with public domain and influence should voice their opinions as well. When instances are brought to light it creates dialogue, a step in the right direction.

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3 Comments

  1. First, I disagree that the flag represents what goes on in the country,
    but rather, it stands for our freedom to protest what goes on in the country. There is a big difference between the two. The flag and the freedoms it represents reflects our Constitutional right to protest, so Secondly, by not standing, he is protesting his right to protest, even though he does not realize this.

  2. Great opinion piece. I appreciate the balance between opinion and facts that back it up. This is a issue and a stance that needs more attention drawn to it.

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