NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has now sat/kneeled during the national anthem for at least 5 games since the NFL preseason began back in August. He has been quite clear about the motive behind his protest.
“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 a preseason game in August. “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.”
The quarterback has since spoken about his stance in several pre and post game talks with the media. Still, somehow, his detractors seem to be missing the message and those who don’t necessarily disagree with his stance wonder what kneeling during the anthem is doing to help combat the oppression that he claims is still happening in 2016. Here are a few things that speak to the impact of Kaep’s protest.
Public Support from fellow NFL players and other athletes.
Since Colin first sat, he has been joined each week by several other NFL players who understand and support his protest, including his teammate Eric Reid who says he thought long and hard about the decision to support Kaep.
“It’s something that’s been on my mind all week,” Reid said. “I believe in what he’s doing. I believe that there are issues in this country — many issues, too many to name. It’s not one particular issue. But there are people out there that feel there are injustices being made and happening in our country on a daily basis. I just wanted to show him I support him. I know there are other people in this country that feel the same way.”
The support has extended beyond professional football into high schools and colleges with athletes around the country kneeling during the national anthem. Soccer player Megan Rapinoe has knelt during the performance of the anthem at every one of her games since deciding to support the protest.
“I am disgusted with the way he has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this,” Rapinoe told espnW’s Julie Foudy. “It is overtly racist: ‘Stay in your place, black man.’ Just didn’t feel right to me. We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated.”
“We are not saying we are not one the greatest countries in world,” she added. “Just need to accept that [it is] not perfect, things are broken.
“And quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling. The very least that I can do is continue the conversation with him by kneeling for the anthem,” she said.
Donation from San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million of his salary at a rate of $100,000 per month for 10 months to community charities, even going so far as to create a website so that the public can track how his donations are spent. He is also donating all the proceeds of his now top selling jersey. Way to set an example right? Right. The San Francisco 49ers team where he is the second string quarterback has followed suit and are donating $1 million to two Bay Area charities for the purpose of improving racial and economic inequality.
For every death threat he receives, Kaepernick has also received praise and support from those who have admitted to their ignorance as it relates to the issue of police brutality in the black community. If you comb through social media, you’ll find people being honest about the fact that they were unaware of the magnitude of the problem and credit Kaep’s outspokenness for their new found appreciation for the plight of black people in this country.
Since Kaep began his silent protest, discussions about racial equality have been initiated on platforms that normally dodge issues such as these. ESPN, NFL Network and a dozens other stations have featured athletes and commentators engaging in much needed dialogue.
For those of us who know first hand about the inequality experienced by black people in America, there is pride in watching Kaepernick conduct his protest with class and take the negativity in stride without letting it deter him from his mission.
Approximately 15 black people have been killed at the hands of law enforcement since the first time Kaep sat, including 40 year old unarmed Terence Crutcher who was shot while his hands were in air. The issues remain prevalent but the conversations are still going, and building. The country is now talking about racial inequality in way it never has before. All because of Kaepernick taking a knee.