The world is very comfortable with dumb jocks – physically gifted people, who display their God-given and finely tuned skills for the entertainment of the public. However, folks get very nervous when athletes actually think and dare to capitalize on the power of their exposure in the media.
Colin Kaepernick, the tattoo-ladened, quintessential millennial NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers expressed himself to the world when he refused to stand during a game during the singing of the American “National Anthem.” He explained his actions. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview. “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.”
People were completely caught off guard that Kaepernick would dare to weigh in on such a hot and explosive social issue, such systemic racism and police abuse. However, in light of his personal past, namely, being bi-racial, being put up for adoption by his white biological mother, being raised by a white family and his conscious decision to identify with the African American experience, his comments should come as no surprise.
Kaepernick displayed his identification with the African American experience by pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. at the University of Nevada, Reno where he majored in business management. Kaepernick is a “Kappa.” Kappa Alpha Psi is one of the four oldest African American college fraternities in the United States, having been founded at the University of Indiana in 1911.
As a Kappa, Kaepernick has numerous other Kappas who he can point to as examples of people who took courageous and oftentimes unpopular stances based upon their moral consciences.
Arthur Ashe was a Kappa. He was a tennis pro and was the first Black man to win at Wimbledon in 1975 and held the number one world ranking in men’s singles that same year. He is the only Black man to every win singles at the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. Ashe was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. He had his first heart attack at age 36 and became a spokesperson raising levels of consciousness about the problem of hereditary heart disease in the African American community. And, when he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion during one of his heart surgeries, he became a vocal spokesperson on the issue of HIV and AIDS.
The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy was a Kappa. He was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s’ “right hand” and lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.
Attorney Johnny Cochran was a Kappa. He framed his career by representing families of people who had been abused and killed by police…not a popular stance for his times.
Percy Sutton was a Kappa. He was a New York-based attorney, businessman and civil rights activist. He was a Freedom Rider and the personal attorney for Malcolm X.
And, Mark Lamont Hill is a Kappa. He is an academic, journalist, author, activist, and television personality. He is a Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta. and can be seen on HuffPost Live. He is also a BET News correspondent and a CNN political commentator. His comments on social issues are true and uncompromising.
Kappas have a long tradition being leaders on social issues…something that Kaepernick is continuing.
Every generation must have African American leaders who serve as “lighthouses” of truth for others, as our community navigates through this society…a society that is wrought with injustice, inequity, false-truths and abject racially-based hostility.
As an attorney and a father of two sons and three daughters, it is most important to me that our community continue the tradition of training and guiding young brothers and sisters to be honest and uncompromising flag bearers of our past and our destiny.
Kappa brother Colin Kaepernick spoke the truth and acted in a manner that is consistent with his conscience. He is willing to pay the price for “rocking the boat” and shaking off the “dumb-jock” moniker.
Members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. are committed to “achievement at the highest level in every field of human endeavor.”
Colin Kaepernick has moved consistent with the oath to which he committed as a member of the proud fraternity of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. –Roderick E. Edmond, M.D., J.D.- Kappa Alpha Psi, Pi Chapter (Morehouse College) Fall ’80. He’s also an Army veteran, who served five years as a captain and his father was a lieutenant colonel in the Army having seen combat in two tours in Vietnam.