San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a national discussion when he refused to stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick followed up his gesture with a powerful statement explaining his action, saying it was time to take a stand.
This was the original statement.
“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. This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
The words were strong. They were championed by many. Kaepernick is standing up for something he believes in. He is ready to take a stand and be a voice for those he feels are not heard often enough.
In the 24 hours since the action and his comments came to light, there has been a wild fallout of rage and anger from those who are offended by the fact that Kaepernick did not stand for the anthem. In the eyes of one side, that was a sign of disrespect to the country and our military.
But Kaepernick had not been given the chance to explain his comments and actions further after that initial statement.
Kaepernick spoke with the media following a practice session and he went all in on his cause.
Not only did Kaepernick explain he will continue to sit during the national anthem for the foreseeable future, he spoke so passionately and his education of the current political and social landscape was ever so clear.
“Ultimately, it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country. There are a lot of things going on that are unjust, people who aren’t being held accountable and that’s something that needs to change. This country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now,” Kaepernick said.
Another criticism for Kaepernick is that this has come out of nowhere. People are bashing the signal-caller for his perceived “lack of skill” on the field and are using that to discredit any opinion. In reality, this is something that has been brewing for quite some time.
Kaepernick’s adoptive parents, who are both white, have raised him to embrace his culture and explore. Through that personal journey Kaepernick has taken, his ideas have evolved and brought him to where he is today.
“It’s something that I’ve seen, I’ve felt. I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with [it] originally,” he added. “It’s something that as I’ve gained more knowledge about what’s going on in this country in the past and what’s going on currently. These aren’t new situations. This isn’t new ground. It’s things that have gone on in this country for years and years and has never been addressed and they need to be.
“I will continue to sit. I am going to continue to stand with the people who are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change and when there is significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it is supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to, then I’ll stand.”
Kaepernick specifically addressed police brutality as an issue that needs to change and be addressed.
Kaepernick also commented on the perceived lack of respect to the military past and present.
“I have great respect for our men and women that fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have fought for this country. And they fight for freedom. They fight for liberty and justice, for everyone.
“And that’s not happening. I mean, people are dying in vain because this country is not holding its end of the bargain up as far as giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody.
“It’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances, where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for. On our land. That’s not right.”
While Kaepernick has been receiving a mixed reaction from players and fans around the league, it appears as though his teammates are standing by him.
Because Kaepernick is so passionate about the discussion and so well-educated on the issues, he is providing a great voice and bringing significant issues to the forefront. Sitting during the national anthem may have irked the public, but his teammates appear ready to stand with him.
As Kaepernick continued his impassioned response, he continued to touch on all current aspects of the political and social landscape of the country.
“The two presidential candidates we have represent the issues we have now,” Kaepernick noted. “You have Hillary who’s called black teens super predators. You have Trump who’s openly racist.”
And then came a very eye-opening comment about the training of police officers in this country that put things in perspective for everyone.
“People of color have been targeted by police, so that’s a large part of it and they’re government officials. They’re put in place by the government, so that’s something this country has to change. There are things we can do to hold them more accountable, make those standards higher,” Kaepernick said.
“You have people who practice law and are lawyers in school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetology student. That’s insane. I mean, someone holding a curling iron has more training and more education than people who have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”
It’s important to remember that Kaepernick is not condemning all police. It’s important to listen to what Kaepernick is saying. He is just asking for more accountability.
Instead of being angry that he didn’t stand for an anthem, listen to what he is saying. Listen to his words. Listen to what he is actually standing for.
You don’t have to agree with Kaepernick and you can believe that he should stand as a sign of respect. But you also have to put everything into perspective and listen to his true message and the point of his statement. This is bigger than a game, and it’s an important moment that could help motivate more people to come out and push for real, tangible change.
It’s time for a real, honest dialogue.
Don’t water down the conversation because of a disagreement in philosophy over standing for the anthem. You would be doing a disservice to Kaepernick’s message and not focusing on his real point.