Abree Dominguez is a junior media studies major.
Kaepernick decided to sit out in protest during the anthem at a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, with the intention of not wanting to honor a country that is oppressing people of color. Kaepernick’s boycott of the song has taken social media by storm. Many are saying that he is deliberately disrespecting the military, while others are praising him for standing up for a group of people that have been historically targeted based on the color of their skin.
The flaws that Kaepernick is addressing by boycotting the anthem have been around since the United States of America was created. People of color have historically been oppressed. Kaepernick is trying to unveil the fact that while we have made progress since the founding of our country, there is still progress to be made. He’s addressing the police officers that are trigger happy and a judicial system that imprisons people of color.
We want athletes to be political on our own terms and only when it matches our own agendas. Kaepernick is using his platform to create a dialogue in this country. While some on the right may try to claim his protest was unpatriotic, we should all view Kaepernick’s choice as in fact the definition of patriotism, since he is exercising his freedoms and liberties to address frustrations, whilst standing by his morals. In addressing the media, Kaepernick contended that he was not disrespecting the military.
I find it difficult to understand why so many are upset with Kaepernick. It is even more astonishing why people are not upset with what he’s advocating for. Kaepernick is sitting in protest for the black men and women that are being killed in the streets by law enforcement, for the children that have parents in jail for nonviolent crimes, while a white man, Brock Turner, is sentenced to six months in jail for rape and only serves three months for good behavior. He is advocating for the minorities that are being subjected to discrimination and unjust treatment by the government. The national anthem is about “liberty and justice for all,” but it is clear that these values do not apply to everyone.
Kaepernick’s reasoning for boycotting the anthem is complex, but he is essentially standing by his beliefs with the idea that no person is greater than the other. What has been perhaps the biggest challenge with this debate is that many are viewing Kaepernick as a football player and not a person. Kaepernick is a biracial man who was adopted by a white family when he was six weeks old. He comes from a background where he is a minority and understands the importance of what he is advocating for.
I myself stand with Colin Kaepernick and his actions. If his refusal to stand for the National Anthem offends you more than the injustices that are going on within our country, then begin to open your eyes to the lives that have been lost. Jordan Davis, the young man that was shot and killed for playing loud music. Sandra Bland, who was killed after being unlawfully arrested during a traffic violation. Eric Garner, who was killed after being placed in a chokehold by NYPD. Tamir Rice, a twelve-year old boy that was killed by two police officers in Cleveland. These are just four of the many lives that have been lost due to racial profiling and hateful stereotypes. By sitting down, Kaepernick is standing up for the lives that have been lost, and standing up for the children who have futures ahead of them. He is standing up for people who don’t have the ability to stand up for themselves.
It is important that we as a nation recognize that Colin Kaepernick is protesting for those who don’t have the platform, regardless of what the political cost may be. He is supporting people that are constantly being oppressed, and is creating a space where people can actively contribute to a society that needs reform. By sitting down, Kaepernick has created a dialogue where people can actively engage in conversations about the issues at hand. Rather than discrediting Kaepernick’s beliefs, or his stance on the state of the country, he should be applauded for breaking the mold.
Graphic courtesy of Colleen Barrett