Kaepernick’s Critics Prove His Point
A couple of short years ago, Colin Kaepernick was playing quarterback for the San Francisco 49'ers in Super Bowl 47. Sometime in the next few days, he will probably find out that he has lost out to Blaine Gabbert (although I think that’s stupid, but hey, you hired Chip Kelly, San Fran.) to be the starting quarterback of the 49'ers, and he will have to back-up the former bust high pick. The team won’t be any good with Gabbert, and Kaepernick will have to sit on the sidelines and accept the torture of being a back-up on a terrible team, or worse yet, be cut.
Of course, none of this is the main story surrounding Kaepernick right now, or perhaps even the worst thing he has to deal with. Kaepernick decided to not stand during the national anthem on Friday night, setting off a fire storm that has reached well beyond the NFL. People are taking to Twitter to burn his jersey in protest. Meanwhile, the New York Giants made the point of having every single on-field employee stand along the edge of the sideline, up and down the field, during the anthem. People can’t be loud enough in ripping Kaepernick’s view right now, and that isn’t likely to stop quickly for him.
I stand for the national anthem, so I’m not going to say that I agree with Kaepernick’s decision. I agree with him that people of color are oppressed in many ways in America, we have institutionalized racism here. I don’t believe that it over-shadows all that is good about this country today, but I‘m a white guy. I have no problem with Kaepernick making his point in a public setting. In fact, I’d encourage him to voice his view.
The thing that is really telling about the Kaepernick controversy though is the online commentary- be it in comments sections, or on social media. There is certainly plenty of open debate between African-Americans, Latinos, and other minority groups over whether or not Kaepernick’s actions were proper. With white people though, the response was almost unanimous on the internet- “Love it or leave it.” White America reacted with rage, of course pretending that it’s about disrespecting our flag, but usually leading back to outrage that he would dare call out racism in a public setting. Their condemnations sometimes try to discredit him as a now wealthy African-American guy, as though wealth protects him from all racism. Some say he’s “disrespecting those who protect us,” as though he ever mentioned the military. No matter what the argument, the fact is that responses to Kaepernick seem to break down very much along racial lines.
This racial divide proves Kaepernick’s point, right? The fact that white Americans don’t even want to acknowledge the unmistakable problems with race relations in this country is a big chunk of the problem. That the comments sections are full of couch potatoes that want to rip him for making his social commentary, all while denying his very point, proves the value in what he is doing. The thinly-veiled racial responses, to dismiss him, from those who are racially different than him, proves what he is saying is a real problem.
I would not do what Kaepernick did, which is to say I guess that I disagree with his choice of action. I will continue to stand during the national anthem, because I think that our nation is still really great, in spite of it’s problems. I don’t disagree with the point he was making though, and frankly I think he’s been proven right on that front. Kaepernick should thank those disagreeing with him in public for proving his point.