Colin Kaepernick and the Double Standard In The Land of the Brave

Written by on August 28, 2016

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It is funny how hindsight makes everyone a winner. A few months ago we as a nation were celebrating Muhammad Ali and ALL that he stood for, from his brash loud mouth antics to his refusal to serve in the United States Army. Now many of the same people who gave Ali high fives are now giving Colin Kaepernick the middle finger for not standing during the National Anthem. How does that work?

I view this incident through a view different lenses. Many White Americans are upset with Kaep because they are looking at this through their White Privilege goggles.

“How can he refuse to stand with all of the great things America has offered him?”

“How can he spit on our glorious past and all that the flag stands for?”

“What about the vets?”

Yeah, I get that, America the beautiful means different things to different people. For some races, Throwback Thursday means the land of opportunity, apple pie, 4th of July, and hamburgers. While for others the United States historically represents suffering, lynchings, bondage, and missed opportunities. No one’s perception is wrong or right, it is their reality. My concern with White America is how you pick and choose who to celebrate for being “brave”.

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How can you be upset because a man decides to sit during the National Anthem? His defiance is definitely not on the same level as Ali. The GOAT could have seen jail time for his decision to sit out of the war, while Kaepernick’s only “legal” consequences is well… um….. nothing. On the scale of unpatriotic ness I think avoiding the war is probably an 8.5 while sitting down during the National Anthem is somewhere around 4.75. Which leads me to conclude that many of the people who praised Ali after his death, who are now bashing Kaep would have probably tried to lynch Ali back in the 60s. Just my guess.

But I accept that, especially during the current climate of the United States. America means different things to different people. However, I am perplexed by the opinions of  some African Americans out there. Victor Cruz stated:

“I think, personally, the flag is the flag. Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things like that. You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion. I think you go up there. You’re with your team, and you pledge your allegiance to the flag and the national anthem as a team, and then you go about your business, whatever your beliefs are. Colin is his own man. He decided to sit down and sit out and that’s his prerogative. But from a personal standpoint, I think you have to stand out there with your team and understand that this is a game and understand that what’s going on in the country.”

Ok.

While another African American chimed in. Dorian Majied, an Army Ranger veteran who served in Iraq stated;

“I understand Kaepernick’s intention, however I disagree with his means. His NBA counterparts protested the same ideas in a way that neither hurt the country, nor ignored the ideals that people of color have fought and died which; ideals represented by the symbolism of the American Flag and words of the National Anthem.

As a member of a national organization, reaping the benefits of a country that apparently oppresses people who look like him, his argument is thin on a personal level.

Doing what Dwayne Wade and company did at a game opener to support BLM, or making a public verbal statement as Carmelo Anthony did, or even a written statement as Michael Jordan did are all more appropriate acts of protest.

He could write his congressman, he could petition, he could picket, he could join the service and actually fight for the rights he seems to think are not offered to him; his sitting through the National Anthem was a lazy lack of will and brain power.”

To refuse to stand for the National Anthem is his right as an American, and I support that right, however I do not agree with that action.

There are a myriad of other ways to conduct social protest for people of color, that don’t, whether by intent or otherwise, ignore the American principles that have given rise to extreme integration within a single American generation.

My father was born without the right to vote and in one generation I’ve been blessed to lead amongst the world’s greatest fighting force.”

“To disrespect the country that has afforded him the opportunities and fortunes he acquired is only made more offensive by the fact that his life is the personification of the ideals I see in the American flag and National Anthem: a biracial child, raised by white parents, and who has accomplished much despite his “oppression.” In how many more nations around the world can a story like that come to fruition?

He made valid points, I’m not ignoring that there are still issues with race in America. However, he is ignoring the positive ideals of America that every colored person who has ever served, fought–while some died–for, by refusing to stand. Proper action is exactly that, action, not the inaction of not standing because he couldn’t think of a better way to protest.”

All of this, in my opinion, reads like House Negro speech. A few weeks ago in Milwaukee, the youth decided to riot, tear up, and burn down a few buildings. They, in turn, were chastised for their method to protest what they felt was wrong with the system. Now we have a person who decided to take a more peaceful stance on a national stage and he is still wrong by some folks standards. Damn. What are we supposed to do?

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Memo to Black folks, be prepared to see many other signs of protest that you won’t agree with. I praised Melo, Wade, Chris Paul, and LeBron for their call to athletes to become “woke”. I praised New York Liberty and Indiana Fever for their media “blackout” this summer. And how I praise Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to play nice.

To those of you who are trying to minimize Kaep please remember that while he won’t face jail time for his sit down, he can and most likely will be blackballed by the NFL. White Privilege doesn’t view Black folks upsetting the system too kindly. So the least we can do as African Americans is support him and the number of another protest that are HOPEFULLY coming down the pipe.


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