Days after Colin Kaepernick set the news waves ablaze with his decision not to stand for the National Anthem, people are still bickering and hurling insults on both sides of the issue. While I’m not a fan of how Colin Kaepernick chose to protest, he is well within his Constitutional rights in regards to freedom of expression. While many are caught up in what he did or didn’t do, what is lost was his message. A message more powerful than one person refusing to stand during 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.”
I cannot fault Kaepernick for expressing his frustration with the social injustice that many still face today. He is just another in a long line of athletes would use their fame to speak out against the ills of today’s society. We clamor for our celebrities and athletes to speak out, to be the voice for us when our voice is suppressed, but when someone says or does something we don’t agree with we ridicule them and make them out to be the villain. The same Constitutional right fans have to burn Kaepernick’s jersey in protest is the same right he has to express his displeasure by sitting. It’s not against the NFL policy to sit during the National Anthem, it’s encouraged not required. It’s also not a federal law even though I’m sure some politician is drafting legislation to make it so as we speak.
Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell. Where would we be if they didn’t speak out against what is wrong with society?
Racism didn’t die when Obama became President, it only amplified. Police brutality isn’t something new, it’s only being recognized now due to the emergence of technology and social media. How is it when an innocent black teen is killed the photo the media uses is one of them making them out to be a thug pulled off social media and when a white kid rapes an unconscious woman in an alley they use a smiling class photo of him? These are the issues that we need to address as a nation. It’s not a white issue or a black issue. It’s an American issue.
We as Americans cannot keep pretending inequality, police brutality and racism is going to go away if we ignore it. The last few words of the Pledge of Allegiance state, “Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The sad part is that we are divided as a nation and there are plenty of people without justice and our liberties can be and have been stripped by politicians.
Imagine where we would be as a nation if we took all this anger and rage that is directed at Kaepernick and channeled it to where it needs to go. Where are the protests for the Defense Department losing trillions of dollars? Where is the outrage at the fact that the police are the ones that police themselves in regards to reports and allegations of abuse? Where are the pitchforks for the crooks on Wall Street who rob this country blind daily and cause economic disasters without and repercussions? Hell, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the respective Presidential nominees and this is ok? An education is unaffordable to most just as healthcare is. Monsato is poisoning us with their chemical and genetically modified food and we’re happy to buy their food. Climate change is a threat to our way of life and we’re here getting distracted by an athlete sitting down.
I hope there are more athletes like Kaepernick that speak out against the ills plaguing us today. There needs to be dialog and there needs to be change. Don’t let the media fool you into focusing on what was done. Pay attention to what was said, that holds more substance. For America to be truly great we all need equality, black, white, gay, straight, Catholic or Muslim. For we truly cannot be the United States of America until we all have a level playing field and all Americans have liberty and justice for all.