by Daniel Bates
As we enter into the sixth week of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against what he sees as wrongdoings against minorities in this country, we’ve heard it all: People are talking, players are talking and the media is talking.
Kaepernick decided that he could not bring himself to stand for the national anthem, due to the social injustices that African Americans and minorities face in this country-specifically, police brutality.
Recently, Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade alluded to the idea that Kaepernick’s protest could lead to “black and white division.” He argued that Kaepernick expressing his views would not only create division between black and white players, but black and white people across the country.
Suppressing opinion is what creates division amongst people, not expressing it. When people are inflexible, stubborn, and think, “This is not a problem,” that is what creates division within society.
With every distracting comment about how Kaepernick’s kneeling is disrespectful to the military, those who criticize him are unjustly projecting what the national anthem means to them and not accepting that it may mean something else to another individual.
Many people are failing to understand that it is possible to simultaneously love the country, and those brave enough to fight for it, while protesting certain aspects in which our country may come up short.
The magnificent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had it right when he said, “Insulting Colin Kaepernick says more about our patriotism than his.”
Then adding, “One of the ironies of the way some people express their patriotism is to brag about our freedoms, especially freedom of speech, but then brand as unpatriotic those who exercise this freedom to express dissatisfaction with the government’s record in upholding the Constitution.”
Even though Kaepernick has repeatedly stated the great respect he has for our men and women fighting for our country, critics are so wrapped up in trying to suppress his opinion that they are the ones who are actually creating the division by being so rigid.
It seems that whenever a Black American tries to express that things going on aren’t right, they are met with some sort of distracting narrative or blind anger that misses the point. We do not do this to any other group of people who are trying to bring attention to their cause.
“Black Lives Matter,” is retorted by, “All Lives Matter.”
When Colin Kaepernick decided to use his platform to bring awareness to a cause he cares about, it got misconstrued as a bad quarterback trying to stay relevant, or how he is somehow disrespecting the flag and America. Even though Kaepernick eloquently spoke about why he chose to sit during the national anthem after being asked.
It’s like others want black people to peacefully protest, but “not like that.”
Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who wore the uniform, stood in full support of Kaepernick, stating, “That’s why I served my country, so that you have the freedom to protest.”
I guess the real question is which video is more upsetting, seeing Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem? Or watching Terence Crutcher, Alfred Olango, Keith Lamont Scott, shot dead in the street? Which is more angering? Which is more talked about? Which was tweeted about more? The answers may be depressing.
While Colin Kaepernick may have generated anger with his protest, he also created a discussion between us. It is unwillingness to join the conversation that is creating the real division.