The Ultimate Risk

“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

How many times has the camera zoomed in on a player during the last line of our national anthem? It’s a symbolic image. You may see tears flowing, eyes closed in a moment of reflection, or even someone getting excited for the game ahead. No matter what image one sees you feel it. The pride, the love, the joy of being an American. It’s a moment of solidarity, a moment that shows that it’s bigger than a sporting event.

A moment Colin Kaepernick took to stand for what he believes in.

Just a quick recap. Friday during the 49ers preseason game against the Packers Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem, something he did the week prior as well. When asked about it by reporters Colin explained that he won’t stand and show pride in a flag for a country oppresses black people and minorities. He also talked about police brutality and the current issues that plague people of color. Colin also stated that he’s willing to pay whatever punishment that’s coming his way.

Being that he’s on the fringe of losing his job this stance can essentially end his career.

As you can imagine, Kaepernick has been met with a slew of criticisms. He’s been told to stick to sports, that he was adopted and raised by white parents, he’s made millions in this country, that he’s disrespecting our military, that he should have found another way to express his beliefs, that if he has it that bad then he should leave, among other things.

This summer we saw network after network honor the late Muhammed Ali for his bravery to speak out in a time where being a black man was hard enough. Speaker after speaker highlighted that he sacrificed part of his prime in order to fight for the equality of his fellow brothers and sisters. That even through all the scrutiny, the backlash, the hatred, and the consequences he still stood up, and fought, for what he believed in.

I shouldn’t have to point out the irony here.

Here’s the thing, if an act of protest doesn’t elicit anger then it’s not an act of protest. Ali knew that and so does Kaepernick.

The most egregious, and confusing, portion of this story are those who are questioning his patriotism. There’s this notion that anything but a salute to the flag is a sign of disrespect to our military and those who have sacrificed their lives for this nation.

Quite the contrary.

The greatest asset America has is that its people can express themselves in whatever way they see fit. Dislike our president? You can say it, out loud, without consequences from our government. Think our government is awful? You can say it, out loud, without consequences from our government. Think this country isn’t as great as it once was? You can say it, out loud, without consequences from our government. Want to speak out about police brutality? You can say it, out loud. That’s what the flag represents, that’s why people fight for it every single day. Those stars, those stripes are a reminder that if we, the people, don’t like something then we have a voice to say something without the fear of censorship or death.

Even if you’re the only voice in the room.

Colin is practicing the oldest, most sacred tradition this country has to offer. He sees and injustice and is using his platform to speak out against it. No mincing words, no playing both sides of the fence. Just his vision. Just his plights. Just his truth.

If anything, Kaepernick is embodying the very definition of what it means to be an American.

If you’re one of those speaking out against him for standing up for what he believes in then maybe your definition of patriotism is blurred, not his.

Feel free to chime in @mattgarrett41.

As always, thanks for reading.

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