San Francisco 49ers quarterback caught flack after making a decision for taking a stance by sitting down. During a preseason NFL game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick decided to remain on the bench instead of standing for the “National Anthem.”
Kaepernick revealed that he decided to sit down in protest of America’s oppression of Black people. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. 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,” he said to NFL.com.
Kaepernick was immediately blasted on social media by racists who called him the “N-word” and other racial slurs. Videos have also emerged of NFL fans burning his jersey in effigy. They believe that Kaepernick is un-American because of his choice.
However, it’s only un-American if Kaepernick didn’t have the right to exercise the First Amendment. And those who are speaking out against Kaepernick’s choice are ignoring the racist history of America. The story of Blacks in America begins with the human travesty of slavery, post-slavery lynchings, the Jim Crow era, housing discrimination and lack of voting rights. It’s a brutal story that continues with mass incarceration, poor education systems, and police brutality.
Even with a Black president in the White House, Black Americans continue to face issues based on race. In the Bay Area, where Kaepernick plays, poorer Blacks are being forced from their homes due to gentrification. With the raising of property taxes and an increase in rent, traditional Black neighborhoods in San Francisco and Oakland are being taken over by new White residents. There have been reports that the new White residents are racially profiling and calling the police on Black residents who haven’t committed crimes.
Kaepernick could lose endorsement deals and become blackballed by the NFL for taking a stance. It was a move that could have negative consequences on his career. But he understands how racism continues to affect Blacks and minorities and he believes the protest was worth any potential outcome.