Kaepernick’s Actions Aren't the Real Problem

If you've been anywhere near social media in the past few weeks, then you’ve surely heard about Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. From supporting tweets from Black Lives Matter supporters to articles being written by renowned sports columnists to comments made by members of the Santa Clara police union, many are commenting on Kaepernick's “controversial” choice to boycott the anthem.

On August 26th, 2016, at a football game against the  Green Bay Packers in Santa Clara, California, Kaepernick sat out of the National Anthem. He chose to do so in protest against the oppression of people of color in America. After his first sit-out, Kaepernick switched from sitting out to kneeling, in respect of the military, all while keeping true to his beliefs. He was later being joined by Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s teammate, in taking a stand against the American anthem.

This protest resulted in mixed responses that flooded social media and newspapers alike. Many were questions directed at the intentions behind Kaepernick's actions, either criticizing the quarterback for having no goals or rather stating that his was a disrespectful one, though it's neither. After his first sit-out, he explained to the NFL his intention: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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."

Most of those outraged over his intentions are white people; people who are privileged in an upmost way in our society and cannot fathom the reality of this. The police union of Santa Clara even discussed having some of its members boycott their games if Kaepernick continues with his actions. Although he may have been brought up by white parents and became ultimately financially stable as a football player, it still does not diminish the fact that there is a fault in our system that relies on the inequality between races, which still applies to him as a man of color. It seems that the minute a black person brings attention to black issues and the public are reminded of their blackness. And it's not surprising. as we live in a world that condemns black people or "doesn't see color", it's important and wonderful that Kaepernick stands up for his beliefs and supports Black Lives Matters and people of color, all while unapologetically rocking a ‘fro. With help from Kaepernick and plenty more athletes of color, like members of the WNBA, they are able to reach to other audiences some people can't and are able to contribute to promoting important issues.

Those who refuse to acknowledge and use their privilege for good are a big part of the problem. As MLK said, which I paraphrase, the biggest enemy of racial equality is not the KKK leaders of the world, it is the average white man who agrees that there is a problem but always insists that there is “another way” for people of color to reach a solution. A prime example of this would be those who claim that Kaepernick kneeling down is still disrespectful, like his old college coach, Chris Ault, who after listening to his message still claims that there is “another way” to respect Kaepernick's values as well as America's. What people like Chris Ault are doing is pushing off the real problem, ignoring its source, and delaying the resolution of this inequality even longer. There is no better day than the present to make a change. There are people like Phil Mushnick, who claim that the problem lies not in white people, but black people themselves as we scream for equality in a world where our brothers and sisters are murdered in the streets by police without repercussions, while they scream about a footballer wearing socks that illustrate police as pigs and openly disagreeing with the national anthem. Black people are outraged over racial inequality and police brutality. Meanwhile, white people are outraged by a reality for people of color that they continuously refuse to see.  The dissolution of white ignorance, the privilege to act as if there is no problem or that it lies elsewhere, is what is needed to fully combat racism, and we're obviously still a long way from it.

Dear white people who believe that Kaepernick is wrong in any way, by showing your anger towards solidarity with the lives taken by the police and demonstrating unwillingness to acknowledge white privilege, you show your true colors. Ignorance is what fuels racism and, sadly for you, people of color are tired of taking it. The national anthem is worth nothing if it isn't true for all it's’ people — and it's not. Kaepernick's decision shouldn't be seen as controversial, it should be seen as the truth.