If you don't know by now, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem before yesterday's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. After the game, Colin was questioned as to why he did not stand. Colin Kaepernick said, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,"... "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."
Shortly after Kaepernick's comments, a flood of negative tweets, Facebook posts, etc. were directed towards Kaepernick, which was to be expected. I stand by and respect Colin Kaepernick because he's passionate about something and not backing down from it. People are always telling each other to find a passion or passions in life and run with it. He's taking his love of football and social justice as a platform to speak out on injustices. I really don't understand the backlash towards Kaepernick. People are calling him unpatriotic and telling him to leave this country. I find it funny and ironic how a lot of people are calling Kaepernick unpatriotic but fail to realize how unpatriotic it is to see inequality in America today. Are we not a country that is built on equality, justice, and liberty? Are we not a country that values its freedom of speech? If we were truly a country of equality, we would not see any KKK groups or have the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. People are entitled to their beliefs whether people agree or disagree. Take for example, do you know many messed up things Donald Trump has said, yet he still exercises that freedom? Freedom of speech does come with consequences and we all have to face them at some point in our lives.
Before people use the, "but...but...his black father abandoned him and a white family took him in, how does he identify as being black when he's been raised by a white family?" By that logic, adopted kids from China living in America cannot identify as Chinese if they're raised by a white family? Kaepernick is speaking on his own personal experiences. I repeat, Kaepernick is speaking on his own personal experiences. These experiences can include stories from listening to others, watching the news, reading books, etc. Just because you're taken into a white family does not mean you don't realize what's going on around the world. It makes no sense to discredit Kaepernick's stories or beliefs just because he lived with a white family growing up.
Kaepernick took the ultimate stand by sitting down. Who decided that everyone had to show appreciation for their country the same way? There are people who do not remove their hats during the national anthem. There are people who do not say God during the pledge of allegiance. There are people who giggle and mess around during the national anthem (Michael Phelps). There are people who do not put their hands on their chest during the national anthem, regardless of skin color (ex. Gabby Douglas, American male shot putters during Rio 2016). Are they any less patriotic? Who said that we cannot be unhappy or question our country? The best way to bridge the gap is by raising awareness and education. The best way to address issues is to listen to those that are being affected. It's not always going to be peaceful, but a lot of times you have to disturb the peace to find it. Problems don't go away the moment we turn our heads away from it. They need to be addressed in due time and as a country, we are currently in a time where there's a lot of addressing and healing that needs to be done.
I am proud of Colin Kaepernick and his social conscience. Like he said, it goes beyond football. Kaepernick realizes that fighting injustices is a life long battle and it goes beyond him as a football player. Selfish? Not so much. Injustice anywhere affects everyone involved whether you know it or not. Using his brand and his name to reach out to millions of people out there takes courage and shows integrity.
Published by Kevin Leung