OPUS Mag

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Colin Kaepernick & "Patriotism" in America

Colin Kaepernick & "Patriotism" in America

“I agree with his protest, I don’t agree with his method.” - New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees

“I acknowledge his right to sit. I don’t respect his motivation or the action - Michigan coach, Jim Harbaugh

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been the topic of intense debate since his refusal to stand for the National Anthem during the August 26 game against the Green Bay Packers. If you want a glimpse into why Kaepernick feels this was necessary, or why people like me side with him 100% go read his twitter mentions or search his name on google and read some of the heinous things being said about him since Saturday.

Kaepernick took his stand and was direct and CLEAR as day with what his motives were when asked. There was no backpedaling, spin doctoring or any of that. Kaepernick took a stance that is rarely seen in pro sports in a time where his job is in jeopardy and he has a lot to lose. For that, I commend him.

Kaepernick has put a lot on the line to speak up for you, your neighbor, all Americans and me. People want to make this a primarily race driven thing but it’s not just about black people. He’s speaking for the Asians, the African Americans, the Hispanic people, people in the military and so on. He even cited how unfairly many military members are treated when they return from serving this country. There are many veterans who don’t get the support here they more than earned serving for this country.  A lot of the people who apparently are huge fans of the military don’t seem to be too concerned about that.’

I side with Kaepernick on this simply because I agree with his cause and he just sat down during a song. He didn’t burn the flag. He didn’t say “Fuck America”. All he did was peacefully sit down.  It’s a noble gesture that singularly might not mean that much, especially given the lack of focus on what actually matters here but it is important nonetheless.  I’m proud of Kaep for having the unmitigated gall to sit and silently protest. He’s not a stupid guy so he knows the kind of backlash it can bring and he took it head on. Salute that man. If I were fortunate enough to be on that football team with him, I’d sit with him during the Anthem.

I don’t mind those who disagree with him not wanting to stand during the Anthem. I realize, though I disagree, that the flag and the anthem by extension mean a lot to people. It’s the type of disagreeing and the things that are said by the people that are disagreeing that take me for a loop.

“Well, Kaepernick has two white parents. What does he know about oppression?” Firstly, he never said he was oppressed. He said he’s doing this for the people who may not have the type of exposure to make a difference. And secondly being raised by White people with money doesn’t negate what’s happening culturally and societally to Black people.  You can be around many white people during your upbringing but that’s not going to stop you from being a nigger when you’re driving down the “wrong” street in the “wrong” car.

“All lives matter” as if anyone said this wasn’t the case.  “What about the military?” as if one can’t strive for a better America without some grave disrespect for the military?  “Well, he makes a lot of money.” So because he makes a lot of money that makes his opinion resonate less than mine, yours, your neighbor, or the person taking your tolls on the bridge? The idea of someone’s level of success being high meaning they shouldn’t speak out about major issues is extremely laughable and insulting to be quite frank.

If you believe strongly enough in something, who gives a fuck about dollar amounts or what you make? The same military that people can’t wait to cite to disagree with Kaepernick’s methods fought for the right of people to express themselves however they would like. That is a freedom that is afforded being in this great country.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King. That quote should resonate any time a protest takes place because that is the entire point. We have black people being killed by the police with a punishment nowhere to be found. We have all these killings in urban areas all over America. All of these issues aren’t to be treated separately. There is a time and a place to speak about both and yes I’m speaking to those who scream “What about black on black crime?” when a police officer kills yet another black man.

“Well, this isn’t the time and place for a protest.”

This isn’t a nail appointment. This isn’t a booty call. A protest isn’t supposed to be convenient. You can’t say you agree with the protest but don’t agree with the method as the two are intertwined (looking at you, Drew Brees). There are a ton of people who have and will comment on this who will either agree or disagree with Kaepernick sitting during the National Anthem AND will ignore the large scale point. They will ignore the substance of what he said and focus on a fuckin flag and a song. Discussing “what” he did is far easier for people than discussing “why” he did it. Notice how it’s always the same people telling protesters that it can be done “differently”. They never have any real suggestions as to what’s “best” so in essence they want you to shut the fuck up. Protests aren’t meant to be peaceful. If everyone liked what you did and backed you up on it, it wouldn’t be a protest. It’s designed, one way or another, to ruffle feathers and piss people off. You don’t get change unless you rub people the wrong way along the path of doing it. Making Americans uncomfortable is the only real way you can hope to see change. America was literally built on this premise. There hasn’t been a single silent, peaceful protest in the history of this country that’s gotten significant change.

American pride and patriotism is rooted in denial and looking the other way. Some of that denial is rooted in racism. For a lot of us, that American flag represents oppression and struggle. We see our own getting shot and killed by the police and said police consistently profiles us. For women, that flag might represent inequality and always being seen as lesser than men. For Muslims, Jews, Asians, Native Americans and the like, that flag might mean something different than the person who is apt to play the “Well if you don’t like it go somewhere else”. As if saying “I want this to be the best America it can be” is akin to saying “Fuck America.” The math is looking a little fuzzy.

You can love America and think it’s perfect if you want. That is your right but what is often overlooked in this is this simple fact that a lot of people want to overlook what’s wrong in America as they bury their heads in the sand. And by a lot of people, I mean mostly white people. As long as people continue to ignore that, and white people continue to do the cha cha slide around the idea of confronting their privilege, there will never be significant progress and there will be always a reason to continue protesting. Denial is a bitch.

There is no “one” America and this country wasn’t made for you AND me. I stand with Colin Kaepernick.

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