Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest
Professional football player and Super Bowl champion Colin Kaepernick has decided to take a stand … by sitting out the national anthem when it’s being played before his football games.
And it has caused a lot of controversy.
Mr. Kaepernick explained himself saying : “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.”
It’s Mr. Kaepernick’s way of saying Enough. He has since gone from sitting down during the anthem to kneeling. Kneeling is considered by many to be a bit more genuflect , that is, a little bit more respectful. Of course, it’s still not the same as standing for and honoring the anthem as something that’s meant to celebrate a unified national identity.
Mr. Kaepernick’s critics say that by taking a stand for one group of people in this way, he is being disrespectful to another — members of the military who fight for our country, and in many cases have died protecting our freedoms, including the freedom and right for Mr. Kaepernick to protest the national anthem.
His critics have also pointed out that because of these hard-fought freedoms, Mr. Kaepernick is able to live the “American Dream” playing professional football and earning millions of dollars. Their belief is that there are other ways to stand up for what he believes in and do good.
Mr. Kaepernick has pledged to give his first million dollars of this season’s earnings to community groups that can make a difference for the cause/s he is bringing attention to.
President Obama was asked what he thought about this form of protest and he supported it saying:
Republican president candidate Donald Trump’s take on it was: “I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.”
Retired basketball star and now writer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, wrote: “Failure to fix this problem [racism] is what’s really un-American here.”
Even the descendants of Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the national anthem, are in disagreement of Mr. Kaepernick’s handling of the anthem … as are people in Mr. Kaepernick’s hometown where he’s a generally a hero.
Other athletes have tried to figure out whether they want to join the protest or how to handle it. The Seattle Seahawks chose to link arms together as a unified team during the national anthem.
“We are a team comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds. And as a team we have chosen to stand and interlock arms in unity. We honor those who have fought for the freedoms we cherish and we stand to ensure the riches of freedom and the security of justice for all people. Progress can and will be made if we stand together,” the Seattle Seahawks said in their video explaining their decision.
Members of Camden, New Jersey’s high school football team are taking cues from Mr. Kaepernick too as they kneel for the anthem before their games, as described in this WNYC/NPR radio interview . These students are some of the very people facing the challenges Mr. Kaepernick is bringing attention to. It’s an excellent interview with the school system’s superintendent.
What do you think? Is this an effective way to protest? Is there a better way? Is what Colin Kaepernick is doing helping?