By: Parker Ferguson
September in America marks the return of NFL football. Millions start their own fantasy leagues, make their playoff and Super Bowl predictions, and prepare for Sunday afternoon game parties. It’s a national craze. However, this year has been different. The conversation going into this season has not been on Super Bowl predictions or the best weekly matchups, but rather San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick and our National Anthem. What started as one individual making a political and cultural silent protest has become the talk of everyone from sports analysts to political insiders.
Kaepernick sat down through the playing of the National Anthem on Aug. 26 during his third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick sat down as a protest against the treatment of African Americans in America. After that, all Hell broke loose.
“I am not going to stand to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in a post-game interview on the NFL Network. “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.”
Kaepernick is no rookie to civil rights messages, as his Twitter page is full of videos and articles highlighting this American issue. Kaepernick is just one among many high profile athlete to make a stance on the race issues impacting our country. Just this July, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James opened up the famous ESPYs award show with a plea to fix the racial injustices and problems in our communities. Those four All Star players, who have all played for Team USA in multiple Olympics, had a 10 minute serious monologue raising awareness for the treatment of minorities in the U.S.
Anthony, Paul, Wade, and James were applauded for how they utilized their platform. Meanwhile, Kaepernick is viewed as a national disgrace. Aren’t they fighting for the same thing? Both want racial justice and equality in our country, have seen how this is not occurring, and have acted how they see best fit for change. The only difference is the power of song. It is the most Patriotic song we have, a song played before every amateur and professional sporting event in our country, and a song that was written 202 years ago to the month.
However, it’s not just the song but also our flag. How could anyone living in our beloved country not stand up and show respect to our flag? It’s the same flag countless men and women have given up their lives to protect and uphold for over 250 years, a flag that represents freedom to the world. Come on, Colin, if you can’t stand for the state of minorities in our country, can’t you at least stand for all the men and women who fought and died for that flag? I mean you did lose your starting spot, and are now a backup, so you already do a lot of sitting on the bench during the game. We can respect your point of view and appreciate your work with charities to fix the problem impacting minorities in our country, but is the best way to promote change looking like the anti-patriot?
Actually let’s hold the phone for a second, guys. We tend to be quick to judge on things like this. Really the joke is on those rushing to judgment. If we are so patriotic, then how come we are so disgruntled and angry about an American man exercising his First Amendment right. Yes, precious American souls gave up their lives for that beautiful American flag. And don’t get me wrong, I would stand on two broken legs for our flag and anthem. But the same lives that died for our flag, also died for all that flag means, one thing being freedom of speech and the right of “people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” What on Earth is possibly more patriotic than exercising your rights granted to you by our constitution, especially amongst scrutiny.
I love America and would give my life for this country, just like so many men and women before me. I also could very well see myself serving my country in the military, as well. At first I was mad too. How could someone disrespect our country, I thought. And to be honest I still hate seeing men kneeling instead of standing for our flag and national anthem. But Kaepernick IS exercising an American right, a right that the same flag he refuses to stand for protects.