Mmkay, so I’ve been itching to throw my two cents on the Colin Kaepernick situation since he came forward and made his statement regarding his decision to not stand for the national anthem. I did, however, want to wait to gauge public reaction, listen to see if he had any follow-up statements, and so on. So, this is what I got:
It’s probably easier to begin where I do agree with the struggling 49ers signal-caller.
- It is his first amendment right as an American citizen to freely and openly speak his mind, regardless if people agree or disagree with him. In a way, it’s honorable that he made the decision to not only speak his mind, but back himself up.
- It’s also honorable that he is using his platform in (what seems to be) an attempt to make a real change. In America, we praise athletes as if they’re gods, and the fact that he recognizes that he’s a very public figure and he’s willing to put his name out there in a controversial issue shows real balls. I commend him on that.
- Frankly, he’s not wrong. There’s a race issue in this country. It may be uncomfortable to talk about, but that’s how societal progress happens – by talking about it. If you don’t think there’s a race issue, you’re simply being ignorant to it.
Now that that’s over, let’s get into why I simply don’t like this move.
First, Kaepernick, like I said, isn’t wrong when he said that minorities are more often than not marginalized in this country. They are. It’s a fact. However, despite his rough beginnings as a child born into a single family household, he was adopted by a new, generous family and raised in suburban California. He played sports and excelled. He was able to go to school and have everything he needed. He was hardly marginalized, so his whole “I understand how minorities feel” mantra simply isn’t true. There’s a difference between sympathizing and empathizing. He can sympathize all he wants, but it’s still not quite the same as empathizing. If I, who also came from a suburban family who was able to provide everything I need, started saying I know exactly how it feels to be homeless, I wouldn’t be praised for that, would I? I don’t think his words are showing sensitivity to people who are marginalized – actually, I think it’s quite the opposite. I think it’s pretending to be something he isn’t.
Second, I think there’s better ways to display his feelings. Kaepernick has always been vocal, whether it’s been in the media or through the use of social media. I think that not standing for the flag disrespects the foundational beliefs of this country more so than the government. Keep in mind – a country and the people who lead a country are two very different things. I won’t get too political with you, though it’s what I study in school. But do you think any political leader or person in a position to make a real change in society gives a rat’s ass about him not standing for the national anthem? You want to know who does care? People who have served, people who try to live their lives using American morals and ideals. You can be anti-corruption, anti-government, anti-racism or anti-anything without being disrespectful. I think he disrespected more people than he stood in solidarity with. You can’t try to show respect to one group of people while disrespecting another group and expect people to not take exception.
Third, I think he made the issue too simple. He said that, “there’s dead bodies in the street and people getting paid medical leave”. I honestly think that’s a biased, inconsiderate opinion. It’s an opinion that doesn’t consider every side to every story. His words imply that every police officer, politician, or high-ranking official only has themselves in mind; that all of them think they’re above the law. That’s not the case. When you take the time to examine each incident with police, each protest that has turned violent, or each issue that gives the United States a ‘bad rep’ from all sides, you all of the sudden see that it’s not as black and white (no pun intended) as it seems. When he says he’ll stand when, “I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to”, I think it ignores that this country still does provide the most opportunities of any in this world and it is by far the most diverse country in the world. The whole ‘other countries don’t have a race issue’ is true because there’s no diversity. It’s impossible to have a race issue if you simply have a vast majority of a single race.
Fourth, I think he’s a hypocrite. If he really, truly cared about being accepting of others, he wouldn’t be calling his peers in the NFL the n-word. A few seasons back, he was fined for calling a Bears defender the word straight to his face. You can read his lips. And actually, there’s absolutely, positively no defense for him using the word. You can tell he didn’t mean it in a fraternal way, which is often the ridiculous defense for being able to use that word in any context. But now, he’s a believer in ELE? That’s absolutely ridiculous. His actions then speak louder than his words now.
Kaepernick’s message isn’t wrong. Hats off to him for being more than simply a football player. That deserves respect. His method? I think it’s wrong, I think it’s disrespectful, and I think it’s inconsiderate.
Cover photo courtesy of mercurynews.com