There is usually nothing that will cause an uptick in the public discourse than an athlete taking a political or moral stance. The latest controversy concerns NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem. He has either sat or took a knee, beginning in the 2016 preseason, in protest for the continued oppression of blacks in America, including police shootings, and the lack of police accountability. Kaepernick's message is not the controversy in and of itself, but how uncomfortable it makes people feel.
Lining up to make a case against Kaepernick's ability to play in the NFL included analysts like Albert Breer, http://www.csnne.com and more importantly, the owners themselves who are hiding behind the premise that he's just not good enough. Richard Sherman of the Seahawks correctly states https://www.usatoday.com “For you to say you have to check with sponsors and fans because this guy took a knee and made a statement? Now if you told me this guy... played like a bum...that's one thing. But Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett or whoever is starting for the Jets is terrible — have jobs...fans would rather you lose and put a worse player out there because a guy took a stand? That’s where it’s so troublesome to me.” You can also add Jared Goff, Scott Tolzien, Josh McGowan, Christian Hackenberg, and Jay Cutler to the list of quarterbacks that are not as good as Kaepernick.
The Chicago Tribune's John Kass had this amazing thought on Kaepernick http://www.chicagotribune.com "But I would like to send him on vacation to Mogadishu, Libya, Sudan or the Valley of the Christians in Syria — where people are crucified for their beliefs — just to hear him whimpering about how much he misses the United States."
Aside from his like it or leave it tough guy talk Kass, without irony, overlooks the fact that his beloved America is bombing and murdering in the countries he mentions sending Kaepernick too. Neither does Kass recognize the linkage between race, militarism, and economic justice in criticizing Kaepernick. Richard Sherman correctly said a core message directed at Kaepernick is, and it applies here too, "It’s not about football or color. It’s about, ‘Boy, stay in your place'.
Criticism has come from black players and NFL analysts as well. Some of the statements are quite stunning.
On Fox Sports 1 Speak for Yourself ex- NFL quarterback Michael Vick piece of advice for Kaepernick, "First thing we've got to get Colin to do is cut his hair". Vick went on by saying even if he had corn rows it was also a bad way to represent himself. Vick was not providing satire- unbelievably this was sincere advice.
There's an implication in Vick's statements that Kaepernick's afro is too black and would harm his chances of getting hired. It's not far reaching to suggest that along with that haircut Vick is also saying to Colin; just sell out to get the job.
On August 29th, 2016 former NFL star and current NBC football commentator Rodney Harrison went on a rant concerning the Kaepernick issue. Speaking on Sports 790 Harrison http://ftw.usatoday was quite adamant about his blackness and dismissive of Kaepernick's blackness "I’m a black man. And Colin Kaepernick — he’s not black. He can not understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face" What prompted Harrison to make such a miseducated statement is anyone's guess. A desire to add something intelligent to the Kaepernick debate was not one of them.
Is Kaepernick's method of protest wrong? Is he being blackballed by the NFL? Not necessarily and yes.
His taking a knee or sitting during the anthem is seen by some, including Veterans, those enlisted, and their families as being disrespectful. There are Veterans and veteran groups that support Kaepernick. Veterans For Peace issued a statement https://www.veteransforpeace.org supporting Colin Kaepernick. I am a Marine Veteran who never felt offended by his protest. I support not only his right to express his message but more importantly the message itself. The idea of wrapping this protest in patriotism and nationalism is fundamentally flawed.
Patriotic fervor and nationalism ignore the trillions of dollars funneled into endless unwinnable wars. Former Marine and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy Matthew Hoh gives a numbing example of the tremendous waste of dollars alone https://www.youtube.com (it is at 12:00-minute mark in the video). Just on the interest of the debt alone through this year for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will total 450 billion dollars http://watson.brown.edu
This colossal waste of tax payer dollars could, and should, be allocated to core issues addressing the black community. Black leaders, representatives, and more importantly the black community itself can make these decisions on the specific areas to prioritize in helping their community. The anthem and flag talk are nothing but deflection.
Yes, Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL, the evidence is everywhere. Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton both concur Kaepernick belongs in the NFL.His 16/4 TD pick ratio on a crappy 49er team is one of many examples. The arguments that he's not talented enough are laughable when looking at some of the quarterbacks on NFL rosters right now.
The one effective way to support Colin Kaepernick is to boycott NFL games by not attending or watching televised games. And refrain from purchasing their merchandise entirely. I like many people enjoy football and was looking forward to the upcoming season. I cannot on the one hand say I support Colin (and most importantly his message) but on the other, financially support those who are oppressing him.
It is also important that whites play a part in this. Blacks are more than just entertainment figures for the nation. They deserve more than mealy mouth statements of how slavery was wrong, racism is bad, etc.. I urge those that support him, and his message to boycott the NFL as well.
Note: Two bars near Soldiers Field are boycotting NFL games in support of Colin Kaepernick. The Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak Road, and Bureau Bar, 75 E. 16th St http://chicago.suntimes.com I applaud them.
Filed under: Social Issues