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Kaepernick’s anthem protest forces necessary dialogue on race

Graphic+by+Kainin+Blissett.
Graphic by Kainin Blissett.

From public denouncements from former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka to remarks from President Obama, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has garnered controversy for his refusal to stand during the presentation of the national anthem, declaring the infamous words to NFL.com, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.

Kaepernick has set the NFL on fire. And I’m convinced his protest is a good thing. As a American, I know it’s a powerful thing. As a black woman, I believe in its strength. This is bigger than football. This is necessary conversation, needed for the progression of our country, not only for marginalized peoples, but for each and every American. This is our obligation as Americans- to speak up and remind the government of its responsibility to ensure the Constitution’s promise of equality for all.

But, you see, people are afraid of Kaepernick because people fear the reality of an ugly truth. People fear that there is merit to his message: we live in a country that doesn’t treat everyone equally. From unarmed shootings of black men found in Charlotte, to homophobia found in the Pulse nightclub, to racial profiling found in the airport security, we are not all treated equally. In 2016. This scares people. It should. But this fear should be grown in conversation, not slander. Instead, this fear is mongered through disgusting responses. Kaepernick has been called unpatriotic. He has been called anti-military. He has been intimidated with death threats. In my eyes, it’s clear that some people didn’t even make the effort to understand the foundation of Kaepernick’s message, instead rushing to rash judgement about his patriotism and morality rather than thinking about the difficult question at hand: What if Kaepernick is right? What if certain groups of people are under-served in this country, and most importantly, how can we change that? What if America was never great?

Kaepernick has said he will continue to kneel during the anthem until he sees change, using his multi-million dollar salary to donate to community organizations, and speaking out to the media to continue to spread his message. He doesn’t expect people to agree with him. Neither do I. I understand the respect the national anthem garners and the role it plays in American patriotism. But his protest wouldn’t have worked any other way.

He doesn’t expect a parade or grand brouhaha for his protest. He’s not a savior. He’s not a superhero. He’s not a Messiah. He’s an athlete using his position as an influential figure to propose important conversation for the progression of our country. He’s voicing his opinion, practicing his patriotism through the First Amendment right, albeit in a manner that doesn’t agree with all. With grass stained knee, Kaepernick is making a stand and to that I say, kneel, Kaepernick. Make America great for all.

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Brianna Powell, Editor in Chief
Brianna is the Editor-in-Chief of The Stampede.

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  • H

    Hannah WestphallSep 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    sup dogs, as one who has recently found myself in the sense of knowledge and emopowerment I am one to say that we should all follow peace love and positivity and just forgive and forget.

    Peace out

    Reply
  • M

    MichelleSep 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    We’re that worked up about someone not standing for a song that ends with “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave?” Why don’t we focus on important things like treating veterans right when they get back from active duty (which Colin mentioned in an interview) or not killing people when it’s not necessary? Colin mentioned that too. It’s pretty hypocritical of some Americans to insist that black people protest peacefully and criticize them when they do. The US is a pretty awesome country, but it’s not perfect. We should all work together to make America better instead of biting the heads off of people who point out our flaws in a peaceful way.

    Reply
    • E

      Evan LembergerSep 29, 2016 at 8:38 am

      To paraphrase George Carlin,”The Politicians are making us focus on our differences so the country doesn’t have to get anything done”.

      Reply
  • S

    someoneSep 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Why do so many people care its just his opinion I do understand what he is doing, I understand why, but everyone that hates on him is getting nothing out of it hes being bashed for his opinion what is wrong with that, just because he has a different opinion then most people doesn’t mean he has to be hated on, too many people are too sensitive to others opinions.

    Reply
    • E

      Evan LembergerSep 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

      True, but if he is disgusted with our country, he shouldn’t be cashing his check.

      Reply
  • A

    asedfSep 28, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I mean institutional racism, not systematic.

    Reply
  • A

    A PatriotSep 28, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Kaepernick is not an influential figure in sports. Not in the slightest. He is a terrible quarterback that did this to get attention. There is no substance to what he is protesting because the only thing he doing is disrespecting is the men and women defending his right to spit on them. Kaepernick actually was fined by the NFL for saying the “N” word directly to another player in a derogatory way while on the field. If anything is makes him a hypocrite.

    Reply
    • S

      some jerkOct 5, 2016 at 9:24 am

      “His opinion as a black man in america isn’t valid because he isn’t good at a sport, and mine is because I’m a white high-student that lives in stonebrige. “

      Reply
  • A

    asedfSep 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Is there any evidence of systematic racism. If not your argument is invalid. These racist acts are being done by a small majority of people and blaming it on your country would have to be systematic racism, considering there is none, point proven.

    Reply
  • M

    MattSep 28, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    As the descendent of two World War II veterans, I find his actions and words to be disrespectful to what my great grandfathers fought for. The flag does not just represent our country or our patriotism. The flag represents the service members who served and preformed their duty as Americans. We as Americans would be doing them a disservice if we were to support such actions that are insulting to those who died for this nation. Those who served fought against actual Tyranny and Oppression and this is what the flag represents.

    Reply
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Kaepernick’s anthem protest forces necessary dialogue on race