This football season has already proven itself to be an attention getter, especially where the San Francisco 49ers are involved. The start of this pre-season for the 49ers was drastically changed when starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem. Head coach Chip Kelly asked Kaepernick to stand as the anthem played, but Kaepernick deliberately stayed in his seat with his arms folded. Was this a form of a silent protest supporting the ethnic oppression that is prevalent in our country today or did Kaepernick just want to make a scene?
Many people are outraged by this protest, but I think that what Kaepernick did was bold and necessary. He wasn’t just starting conversations across the nation; he was exercising his constitutional right as a citizen of the United States of America to voice his opinion.
Because I was born in Zimbabwe and have a more objective view of American nationalism, I feel I am able to recognize the difference between justice and injustice, especially when it comes to racism. I understand that not standing at a public event, especially one of the nation’s favorite events, was something that a lot of people read as disrespectful to the troops that serve and protect us. That being said, I don’t think Kaepernick meant to be disrespectful to our troops. Kaepernick was supporting a movement that has been looked down upon since it began in the 60s.
The civil rights movement has continued to put a strain on the lives of those whose skin color separates them from what a “traditional” American looks like. Throughout the years the battle for equal rights for people of color has been something that has never seemed to find a final solution. This issue has always found a way to make itself a part of every generation’s lives. From slavery to Martin Luther King Jr. to Black Lives Matter, the question of equal rights for people of color has never been resolved; instead, the question has become repetitive throughout history. Not only has this pattern of inequality persisted, but it has also become an uncomfortable thing for people to discuss because of its negative connotations. Inequality is like a blame game and nobody wants to take full responsibility for it, nor does anyone want to step up and face the problem.
Kaepernick decided it was time to do what no one else wanted to do: to face the problem head on. Staying seated wasn’t him disrespecting the country in which I live but rather him silently saying enough is enough. How many more innocent men of color have to end up behind bars or even end up dead because of the inequality that resides in our country today? Kaepernick’s critics don’t appreciate that Kaepernick wanted to focus on a serious matter rather than just play another game of football. If the NFL can allow Beyonce Knowles to perform a song that commemorates the Black Panthers, then why can’t Kaepernick stay seated during the National Anthem?
Despite all the negative attention Kaepernick has received for not addressing the national anthem, he has also received some support from other celebrities. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, multiple players from the Seattle Seahawks, and current President Barack Obama have all supported Kaepernick in his decision to either sit or kneel at every game since the season has begun. Some of the Seahawks players have taken it a step further and started taking a knee themselves when the nation’s anthem begins to play. I don’t think that Kaepernick intends to draw attention to himself, but peacefully draw attention to the problem of inequality that this country has.