Wow, the months go by faster and faster the older (and busier) I get! Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me in my accidental hiatus. As a quick update, I’m coaching high school volleyball and since my last post I have been hired at a law firm. Between the two, I’ve hardly had a minute to think, let alone sit down and write a post for you all! But here I am. Enough about me…let’s talk about the trend that Colin Kaepernick has started in the NFL.
I am as big of a football fan as the next good American. I, like many, was beyond excited for the NFL season to start. Little did we know what was in store for us. In case you haven’t heard, Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers took it upon himself to sit during our National Anthem played before the preseason games. Around late August the media started noticing his action, and he gained national attention for it. On August 28th Kaepernick explained to the media that he was “standing with the people who are oppressed” in our country. He has vowed to not stand (literally) until he is pleased with the steps that America is taking to end racial oppression. His cause has gained momentum, and there have been similar demonstrations from players of almost every NFL team during the anthem. Players have ranged from taking a seat, to kneeling, to raising their fists in a very “Black Panther-esque” manner. Yes, even on 9/11. The 49ers did not play on 9/11 but Kaepernick’s presence was alive and well as his fellow NFL players snowballed his stance against this “injustice” they see America facing.
Let’s take a second to realize what the National Anthem means, and should mean, to all of us. The National Anthem allows us to recognize, remember, and pay homage to the great, FREE country we live in. The anthem reminds us of the sacrifice that has been made by so many to keep our country great and free. It is our time to honor those who serve today and those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the opportunities and freedoms we’re given as citizens of the United States of America.
Kaepernick’s attempt at being a social justice warrior is demonstrated in the wrong place, wrong time. Being a part of the NFL Kaepernick (and all other NFL players) stand on one of the biggest stages in our country, as football is one of the most widely watched sports in America. If anyone is an advocate for standing up for what you believe in, it’s me. However it needs to be done respectfully, and appropriately. Kaepernick claims oppression is the motivating factor behind the trend he’s started. More specifically, what he believes to be the unfair treatment of black Americans, especially by police officers. I have a huge issue with Kaepernick’s use of the word “oppression.” Mr. Kaepernick, please explain to me how you and the other African American NFL players are oppressed? Please explain to me how in a country where racial oppression is such a problem that you will take a knee during our anthem, that 68.7% of NFL players are black? Keep in mind that the LOWEST annual salary (I’m talking rookie minimum) in the NFL is $435,000. That puts every single NFL player in the top 1% of Americans. Kaepernick’s $114 million contract with the NFL (plus a nearly $13 million signing bonus) puts him in the top 1% of the top 1%. Is that our new definition of oppression? How can a country who oppresses black people allow far more than half of the league be made up of black players? How can they allow them all to be wildly successful? From my standpoint, that is hardly oppression. No matter what situation, circumstance, or city they were raised, every NFL player had the opportunity at some point to make it to that stage. The “system” didn’t prevent them from getting to the top. Every player got there, no matter where they started. Based on that fact alone, the argument of black oppression is invalid.
To be clear, I am not saying that African American athletes are oppressed. What I am saying is how can the oppression of African Americans be a blanketed statement across the entire race when so many have made it to the pinnacle of success? They certainly are not an example of the cause they are standing (or rather sitting) for.
My other issue with Kaepernick’s movement is how he is choosing to present his case. The National Anthem is not a time to make a stance about racism in America. Being born under our flag allowed Kaepernick to get to where he is today, and he needs to respect that. Sitting, kneeling, or raising fists during our nation’s anthem spits in the face of every serviceman and woman who has fought and/or died to protect us. The anthem has nothing to do with race or social standing, and instead stands for the unity of ALL of us under our flag. Kaepernick is taking that moment to further polarize groups in our country, going against everything the anthem stands for. It is Kaepernick’s right to speak out about what he believes to be the issues our country faces. As do all of us. But he has taken a controversial stance and put it on display in the most disrespectful manner possible. I don’t care that he has made the statement that he loves and respects those who have fought for this country, our freedom, his freedom. Actions speak louder than words.
The conversation of race in America has stemmed almost solely from the police involved shootings of African Americans. In turn, much of Kaepernick’s stand stems from these shootings. As many of you know, my father walks the thin blue line. That is why I hold the cause close to my heart, and that is why I dispute so many arguments claiming race being the motivating factor behind these incidents. In closing, Kaepernick is a classless, tasteless, wannabe social justice warrior who needs to respect and realize what his callout on racial divide is doing: causing further division. Given the resources that Kaepernick has at his fingertips his goal should be to unify. He should use his platform in such a way that he puts his money where his mouth is. All he is doing with his acts is drawing attention to himself. His act is a selfish one, and those defending him are fooled into thinking that he is making any real progress on the issue that he stands for.
If you’d like to implement some real “change” and stop the murders of African Americans, jump down off your high horse, visit the streets of Chicago and tell your brothers and sisters to stop murdering each other. Tell the supposedly “innocent” black Americans who have been shot by police to cooperate, respect authority, and not reach for their guns. Learn to respect the country that has given you every opportunity to make something of yourself and realize what you “taking a stand with the oppressed” by taking a seat during the anthem means to servicemen, women, and their families. Respect this country, respect our flag, and respect our anthem or leave. It’s as simple as that.