Social media is talking about Colin Kaepernick a lot -- I'm going to be another one of those voices. He has been receiving plenty of hate for using his first amendment right to freedom of expression (and speech) and becoming visibly more...black. Although we could debate whether he's being disrespectful or not, I'm going to write about how his actions are undeniably important to a certain group of people. Colin Kaepernick is a symbol of the journey to knowing yourself and standing up for things you care about, and that's really important for so many people of color.
A video response by Tomi Lahren on the event of the quarterback not standing for the national anthem contained one statement that really stood out to me. Lahren made a comment on how he had been playing in the NFL for years and probed as to why he did not protest sooner if he really cared. An interesting question that led to self-contemplation and reflection on what I had experienced in my short life. It led to a pretty interesting observation that I think a lot of people are missing.
As both a white and black woman I understand how hard it can be to define your identity. I can really only speak from my personal experiences, but I've found that a lot of the time people of mixed races tend to lean towards one race (whichever one they perceive to be more accepted by society). However, as we grow older we realize that to deny part of ourselves is not only difficult but a hindrance in becoming the best version of ourselves. So people start to become curious and passionately seek out information about what they tried to push away for so long--just like Kaepernick.
In this past year, college has been so formative in how I see myself. I have started to embrace all of me. I have watched documentaries, listened to the stories of fellow members of my black student union, researched hair products that are good for my natural curls. I have become more educated on what inequality, sexism, and racism looks like. Things that I would have laughed at as a middle schooler in order to avoid confrontation would never be said in my presence today without reproach.
Seeing someone as visible as an NFL quarterback going through his own wake-up call is fantastic. People struggling with their identities can be inspired to embrace their whole selves. People who may not currently have the courage to stand up for their beliefs will see a well-known athlete doing it and think that it may not be as impossible as they think.
There should never be a time limit on when we should stop trying to become better people. The mentality that there is an expiration date on when you can comment on an injustice that you have become more enlightened to is what is leading to the close-mindedness of our country. No matter if he has been playing for one year or ten years, he should be praised for standing up for what he has become more knowledgeable about, and we should be moved to do the same.