Kaepernick and The Bigger Picture

Colin Kaepernick has been receiving heavy criticism for his decision to sit out for the national anthem. The quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers cites his reason being the injustice that minorities, particularly the black community, have been facing.

We have a right to criticize him for his decision. He has a right to stand up for what he believes in.

In an interview with NFL.com, Kaepernick said, “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.”

Instead of blindly criticizing Kaepernick for being “anti-American,” why don’t we recognize the issue that he is trying to bring attention to? Whether we like it or not, minorities are targets of discrimination by the police. Now, before you jump down my throat, notice that I did not say “all police.” But there is a significant amount of officers out there that have done irreparable damage to the relationship between minorities and the police community.

Let’s make something clear. This is no way justifies violence against police officers. This just states that police officers need to start taking more accountability for their actions instead of always jumping to each other’s defense when they shouldn’t be.

Veterans are arguing that Kaepernick sitting out the anthem is a slap in the face to their mission of protecting our rights as Americans. “We fought for his right to stand for the anthem and this is how he repays us,” they keep saying. Again, I reiterate that the beauty of America is the rights that come with being a citizen. Kaepernick can do whatever he wants during the anthem. He feels that there is a bigger issue of human rights being violated within the black community and his way of communicating that is by drawing attention one of the biggest stages in America.

When Black Lives Matter activists line the streets to protest, they are called “violent” and “unruly” and some of the times, the criticism is justified. Look what happened in Detroit and Baltimore.

But we are not talking about a violent protester. We are discussing someone who is making his voice heard peacefully and yet, he is still being attacked by the public for his actions.

So what is the real issue here? Are really that upset at Kaepernick for sitting out the anthem? Or are we upset at why, because it brings up hot topics that we don’t like to talk about?

We also cannot ignore the fact that there are veterans, specifically black veterans, who have APPLAUDED Kaepernick for his decision. On medium.com, there is an open letter to the quarterback showing their support. On Twitter, there is a hashtag circulating: #VeteransForKaepernick.

And veterans are not the only ones showing their support. 49ers teammate Eric Reid, Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane, and women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe all opted to kneel in solidarity during the national anthem for their respective professional games amid backlash as well. Kaepernick has also decided to shift to kneeling as a way of showing more respect after a discussion with former NFL player and military veteran Nate Boyer.      

Maybe you don’t agree with it, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Instead, I implore you to try listening to Kaepernick and these issues in general. Don’t allow blind patriotism to get in the way of being an informed citizen.

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