A week ago, the image of Colin Kaepernick lounging on a bench during the national anthem was burned into the head of everyone who had turned on a television or browsed the internet. Some hated the protest, some applauded it, while others wondered if there was a better way to bring light to such a sensitive issue. One thing is certain, it grabbed the attention of a nation. And that’s what he wanted, right?
Not really. Kaepernick wanted to bring up a discussion of the oppression he sees for “black people and people of color” in the United States. What he did start a discussion on, is whether or not one should be ostracized for sitting during the national anthem. By many, it was seen as a slight to the military and completely ‘unAmerican’. Anyone that lives in this country knows that going against the military is taboo. This is not the 1960s and 1970s when people spat on, and ridiculed soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War. Not to say that people in the United States do not still have strong feelings against war or the reasons we are in them, but we have evolved to realize that it is not the young men and women who put their lives on the line that we should be angry with. While Colin did say that his sitting was not aimed at the military in any way, it was pretty hard to separate the two once it had gone viral.
Kaepernick was left at an impasse once he said he would not stand until he saw real change with the issue at hand. If he stood after that without progress, he would be viewed as just another whiny, overpaid athlete looking for attention while not really caring about the issue. On the other hand, if he continued to sit, he would be at the center of a media whirlwind, lose endorsements, be jeered at in every stadium he entered (even Levi’s Stadium), and become more of a sideshow than an NFL quarterback, starting or not.
The sign of a true man is not that he is never wrong, but rather, that he can admit his faults and strive to change and become better. Was Kaepernick wrong to protest what he sees as a social injustice in our country? Absolutely not! Could he have gone about it in a better way? I think so. Kaepernick spent 90 minutes with former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, before the 49ers final preseason game, and decided to take a knee during the national anthem instead of sitting. Wow, that was not something I expected to see. While we are supposed to stand for our anthem, taking a knee can still be seen as a sign of respect. Genuflect means to lower one’s body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect. That is what Kaepernick is doing. What Colin is saying with this action appears to be, ‘I will still continue to protest the problem I see in my country, but I do not want to disrespect those not involved. Most notably, the men and women of the U.S. military.’.
Kaepernick is not perfect, in this protest or outside of it. Wearing socks with pigs dressed in police uniforms was certainly not done in good taste. Protesting oppression, then wearing a t-shirt with one of the most oppressive modern day world leaders on the front of it almost seems oxymoron. However, I for sure am not the one to cast the first stone. If people came looking at all of my poorly thought out plans that I took action on first, I would have my foot so far in my mouth that I could kick myself in the ass simultaneously for screwing up.
All in all, while I may not see Colin Kaepernick as a respectable NFL quarterback, I definitely respect him as a person. Admitting when I’m wrong (however rare that may be) is probably one of my biggest faults, and I could definitely take a page from the book that is Colin Kaepernick. So Colin, continue your protest until you see the change that you want to see in our country. Also, I hope you will be starting on October 2nd, because my Cowboys sure could use the win.