It’s as American as hot dogs and hamburgers to silence the voices of people of color when we air out our grievances about white supremacy and oppression. Whether we do it non-violently or we shake stuff up physically, we cannot win because “they” don’t want to hear or deal with it. Over the weekend, Colin Kaepernick decided to use his platform as a internationally known professional athlete to take a stand (or a sit in this case) during the National Anthem to silently protest the various recent forms of oppression that have happened in this country. His reasoning was sound and very honest. One look at his Twitter page, and you’ll see a slew of informative tweets discussing a myriad of “isms” that he knows about. Of course, his actions caused a divide in our country at a time when race relations and ignorance are at an all-time high within media, political rhetoric (check out what Maine’s governor just said), and White people are hurt.
There are two sides to the debate: a) you have one end of the spectrum (many people who identify as Black or African-American) who understands the reasoning behind his actions and support him 1000% and you have b) the people who believe that he should have chosen another form of protest as he was disrespectful towards the military and our country and should not have taken THIS opportunity to voice his displeasure. Below are some of the comments from other athletes that have been vocal about Kaepernick’s actions:
Activists changed USA for better but have to associate Nat Anthem w/ military that die for ur right to protest. Stand up. Find another way
— Tyler Polumbus (@Tyler_Polumbus) August 27, 2016
I will be STANDING during the National Anthem tonight. Thank you to ALL (Gender,Race,Religion)that put your lives on the line for that flag
— Justin Pugh (@JustinPugh) August 27, 2016
It blows my mind how many people hate the country they live in.
— T.J. Yates (@TJ_Yates) August 27, 2016
— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) August 27, 2016
Once again, White America shows its discomfort with people of color taking matters into their own hands and not being silent any longer. The guy in this video (who surely purchased that Kaepernick jersey and burns it-irony) has this idea that because Kaepernick is making millions of dollars, he is protected from oppression and shouldn’t be complaining which is completely wrong and unfortunately, there are so many people that believe this. To see the comments that Kaepernick should do it at another time is foolish and just a cover for White people to say, “hey, I’m for you doing things, but do it on your own time”.
Think back to when LeBron James chose to go to Miami and the hatred that was spewed from burning his jersey to making death threats, however, when he came back and won the championship all was forgiven. This was a man that made a decision to take matters into his own hands for his family and his career and he was chastised for it. Where in the blue hell do they do that at?!??! Oh, America! The relationship that this country has with people of color, especially athletes and celebrities, has always been tension-filled because folks don’t want to wake up to their s***.
When you juxtapose Kaepernick’s actions against someone like Ryan Lotche, who embarrassed this country on the grandest stages in the world, reaffirmed a picture that people of color has seen numerous times throughout this country’s history. If you’re a White, heterosexual male, you have the privilege to not be aware of your actions (because “boys will be boys”) and the impact that it has on those around you. It doesn’t matter if you were in the wrong because the media and society will “whitesplain” your actions much to the chagrin of those affected by your actions. You’re still looked at as a leader and yes, you’ll lose a few dollars, but “hey, America!” Kaepernick is silently voicing his discontent for the actions affecting his community, yet he has jerseys being burned to shreds.
How unAmerican is it to speak out against being oppressed? Well, according to American History 101, that’s why this country is here today because “Americans” at that time, wanted to disassociate themselves from the British (word to the American Revolution).
But, you know: only in America…