San Fransico 49er’s quarterback, Colin Kapernick, has been making headlines for his choice of activism and not for his athletic skills. He has opted to not stand for the national anthem because he feels it does not reflect the current state or history of America. Some fans are upset because they feel like Kaepernick is being anti-American and also disrespecting the military. Instead, his choice to sit out the national anthem acts as a wake up call for the country: the innocent are dying, the guilty are getting paid to murder, the handling of police brutality, and the overall lack of conversation of social injustice. Fans' reactions to Kapernick’s decision is more than scary because they are choosing pride of their nationalism to obscure them from the existing contradicting realities.
The national anthem boasts of America’s grandness, the pride in which Americans take in being the leader of the free world. While the anthem does not explicitly mention much in terms of freedom, it is meant to represent the meaning of America; it is the musical embodiment of the country. Kaepernick feels, as a proud American citizen, it is his duty to make a stand (pun intended) and call attention to those who cannot be heard by America.
He is not breaking any laws by sitting out the national anthem due to the first amendment right to freedom of expression, which Americans love to glorify. It’s one of the great laws that makes America such a great country, right? It is understandable he has made people very uncomfortable because the national anthem is supposed to represent America. However, certain Americans have reacted violently to express their anger towards the injustice and have destroyed property, including burning of the flag. Kaepernick is quietly sitting down and being respectful the best way he can. Americans complained about the protests that took place after the deaths of innocent men and women, protests against the injustice the “other” America has been facing. Why is there no complaint for the cause of these acts of protests? It doesn’t matter whether it is peaceful riot, a violent riot, a hashtag, or just sitting down: America does not want to have the most essential conversation of our time.
In his defense, the silent protest is preferred to the other ways American’s have responded to their right to the second amendment. For example, Donald Trump and Paul LePage, Governer of Maine, response to foreigners, the media's response towards black America, and how the law, and many citizens too, have responded to homosexuality, prior to the Orlando shooting. Many vile and hate filled words have been said (like really, take a look at Paul LePage). Kaepernick has chosen silent reflection.
At the end of the day, Kaepernick has proven his point. He is upset at the current state America is in and is trying to send a message, but people do not care about what he has to say, only him sitting out. Essentially, there are two Americas: the American Reality and the American Dream. The American Dream is a beautiful country, where there is freedom and equality for everyone. The American Reality bursts that bubble, and the walls come down. The view is ugly. Maybe it’s the guilt of having a more privileged life. Maybe people cannot understand because it is not happening to them. Whatever is the fuel for this ignorant bliss, it is becoming dangerous.
Tomi Lahren, talk show host, has been a very vocal about her protest against Kaepenick. She sees it as disrespect against the very Americans who dedicate their lives for his right to the very freedoms he exercises, which can be understandable. However, she argues his claim of police engaging in murder is practically exaggerated and there is no proof of police actually murdering people. Additionally, she doesn’t believe Kaepernick can even have a stance on the racial issue because he half-black and adopted by a white family, therefore he has been living in white privilege. Tomi is calling out Kaepernick for being anti-American, yet he is fighting for the rights of social justice. By saying American police offers are not murdering civilains, she is using her white privilege to be oblivious to the realities of what is happening in non-white neighborhoods, yet she is calling him out on his white privilege.
The Santa Clara and the San Francisco police departments took offence to Kaepernick’s statement. The San Francisco police department say the understand him sitting down during the national anthem as a right of exercising his use of the first amendement, but they do not appreciate what he has been saying about police departments. The Santa Clara police department have told the NFL, if they do not take action against Kaepernick, they will not provide security for the games. It baffles me, why the police department would take so much offense to the point where they will not do their jobs. Kaepernick is calling for police officers to take more accountability for the police officers who do not follow protocol and ensure the safety of all civilian lives. It is not all of the police who abusing their power, but collectively police officers have too much power above the law, proven by the way the murders and attempted murders of civilians have been handled by the legal system. If the San Francisco and Santa Clara police department is following protocols and protecting all of their citizens, why are they so offended? Why can't they understand that there is a problem in the way police departments have been handling encounters with minority communities? Kaepernick is not saying any slander about the police; he is describing what has been going on with the police throughout the entire country.
This is bigger than football, and it is much bigger than San Francisco. As small as the act of sitting down may be, Kaepernick has done something huge. The American public has opted to not take a stance against the injustices going on against Colored America. They have turned a blind eye because the illusion of freedom and equality for all is a much more beautiful depiction of America than the truth. It is easy for Privileged America to get away from it, but football is theAmerican sport. He has brought the injustice to a place where America has no choice but to look and feel uncomfortable. Just like Beyoncé did at the Superbowl. Just like Kendrick Lamar did at the Grammys. The revolution to true equality cannot be swallowed down easy. Controversy is the key to make America wake up, even if it silent, even if it is sitting.
So, thank you Colin Kaepernick to making people uncomfortable. Thank you for using your stance to speak for those who can’t. You aren’t sitting alone. This is patriotism, because you are fighting for equality. That is the meaning of America.