Let’s be honest. The reason that Kaepernick protesting is a big deal is because certain people want him to protest in a way that they agree with or in a way that is easily dismissed. No one cares about Black people marching at rallies. No one cares about Black people doing all this peaceful stuff either. It is too easy to dismiss.
Kaepernick is getting publicity because he is a football player with a national audience in America’s game, and people do not agree with his actions because those actions can not be easily ignored. I respect him because he truly is taking a stance and a chance. He could possibly be cut for his decisions. The national debate is not about what he is protesting, it is about how he is doing it.
As friends, we have the freedoms to say what we feel to each other without too much scrutiny. Whether White, Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, or Aubergine, we as Americans can speak without our words being politicized. There are controversial issues and behaviors that common Americans can discuss without the media’s narrative becoming one-sided or polarized. However, those in the public eye have their actions and comments dissected by the media and the general public. Colin Kaepernick no longer has the gift of anonymity because he is a quarterback in the NFL. He plays one of the most glamourized positions in one of the most popular sports in this nation. And, he plays one of two positions in football that is almost exclusively White. so kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem is an action that has been and will continue to be scrutinized by people who do not face the same inequalities that people of color endure daily.
Trent Dilfer, regardless of his participation in a game that is majority Black, is still a White man with decidedly White views. No one should be surprised or angry that his opinions are segregated across color lines. OJ. Kaep. Trayvon Martin. These are examples of social injustice where color lines divided popular opinion, and Dilfer represents the majority consensus. Instead of listening to what Kaepernick is saying, the majority attacks his credibility. Instead of seeking understanding in this situation, the media questions his position. And, in the cases of police shootings of unarmed civilians, instead of focusing on the policemen who regularly kill unarmed Black men, Americans criminalize the victims.
As a backup quarterback, Kaepernick is supposed to be quiet and unassuming. But, he is not required to be quiet as a person or as a Black man. He was not slandering his starter or talking shit. He was not disrespecting the flag or the military. He was not saying that White lives do not matter; he is biracial, and was raised by White parents. He was simply saying that Black lives matter equally.
As a veteran who has served this country, lost friends, and is still dealing with the ramifications, I am more proud of Kaepernick than I am of any singer or public figure who thinks it is cute to make publicity stunts while giving money to wounded veteran charities.
We fight for freedom. The freedom to fight. The freedom of expression. The freedom to be straight or gay. We even fight for those who can not fight for themselves, the defenseless and underappreciated. If Colin Kaepernick gives a public voice to an issue that I do not have the publicity to elicit a change, then I respect him for it. Kaepernick is a Super Bowl quarterback who did not have the historically great defense that allowed Dilfer to wear a championship ring. But even now, comparing the two quarterbacks, Kaepernick is ten times the player that Dilfer was. And honestly, he is a better man than I am because I sit back and watch injustices everyday without protest and without millions of dollars on the line.
It’s funny that in a stadium of 40,000 people, one person sitting or kneeling can cause such a discussion. That’s a power that I don’t have. He does. He used it.