In his 1955 memoir, Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin says, “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
As an act of compulsory allegiance we are told to [read in announcer voice] please rise and remove our caps, place our right hand over our hearts or salute the flag whenever, wherever the national anthem is played.
Sept. 26, 2016 Colin Kaepernick took a seat in our history books between two Gatorade jugs while the national anthem played in San Francisco during a pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers.
After holding a players meeting and speaking with teammates, Eric Reid and Nate Boyer — a former Green Beret — Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem along with Reid on Sept. 1, 2016 during the 49ers pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers, which also happened to be Military Appreciation Night at Qualcomm Stadium.
“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.” — Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick set fuel to fire when he first sat down during the national anthem, a fire in the form of a conversation we the people have refused to tackle for a very long time.
A conversation about what the national anthem—that was written by a slave owner in 1814, set to the tune of a British drinking song To Anacreon in Heaven, and only appeared in sports after the owners of the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs noticed more people attended the 1918 World Series — stands for.
Sept. 11, 2016 marked the 15th anniversary of attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th and the 97th anniversary of the start of an NFL season, which are both considered holy days in the United States and yesterday the two holidays intersected for fascinating display of loving America more than any country in the world and insisting “on the right to criticize her perpetually” as Baldwin says.
“I don’t think there was any lack of respect. Everyone in this team and whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for. These guys are making a conversation about something that’s very important topic in this country. I’m 100 percent in support of them.” —Stephen Ross, Owner, Miami Dolphins
“The message is that I’m against social injustice. I’m not against the military, police or America at all. I’m against social injustice and I feel like this is the right thing to do. I feel like this is the right platform. This is our only platform you know, to really be heard, and I feel a lot of times, people want us to just shut up and entertain them, shut up and play football.” — Brandon Marshall
“I’m black, I love being black and I’m supporting Colin as far as what he’s doing as far as raising awareness of (the) justice system. It’s not about attention for me,” Peters said. “Don’t talk about it being about (that). I come from a majority black community in Oakland, California. The struggle I see, I’ve got family members who are still in the struggle.” — Marcus Peters
This NFL Sunday was an extraordinary display of dissent from a song that was not written for all of us.
Christopher Michael can hear Jimi. Follow him on Twitter: @KINGCHRXS.