By Shaun King on August 27, 2016
On Friday night, before a 49ers preseason game against the Packers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand for the national anthem. It wasn’t an accident. He didn’t forget. He wasn’t injured.He didn’t stand at attention like Gabby Douglas did during the Olympics. He stayed seated – on purpose. It was a deliberate act of protest.
Colin Kaepernick, like millions of people all over this country, has had enough. I’ve had enough. Everybody I know and love has had enough. If you don’t know what we’ve had enough of, you are probably white and probably live in a bubble that has protected you not only from the injustice, but even from the news of its harsh reality.
The levels of injustice, racism, bigotry and brutality faced by people of color has crossed an invisible threshold in America. The straw has broken the camel’s back. It was not just the violent police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling this summer that pushed many of us past our breaking point, but the accumulation of injustice and the corresponding unwillingness of this nation to truly take the problem seriously that has put us where we are now. It’s too much.
What Colin Kaepernick did, not only by refusing to stand, but by then very clearly saying that he was refusing to stand for an anthem to a country that habitually mistreats African-Americans at every turn, was one of the boldest moves in the history of American sports. It follows Muhammad Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War and the Black Power salute hoisted in the air at the 1968 Olympics by Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
The stages those athletes were on may have been bigger, but in this generation, in this era, no athlete has ever done something quite like what Colin Kaepernick just did. Over the past year, Colin and I have become friends online. While I had no idea that he was going to protest this way, I’ve seen up close how disturbed he has become by injustice in America. We should all be that disturbed.
I have actually grown quite used to athletes saying and doing very little about injustice, but we’ve crossed over to the point that even Michael Jordan, who is known for staying away from such public risks, has said that he’s had enough. If that doesn’t tell you how bad the problems are, then you simply don’t get it.
Of course the racists and white supremacists are already out in droves. They always are. But what they don’t get is that Kaepernick did not do this for himself. He knows that he is a privileged and wealthy NFL quarterback. He did this for the families of victims of police brutality who are left to do nothing but grieve when their loved ones are killed by the very people paid to protect them. He did this for Sterling and Castile. He did this for Tamir. He did this because he knows, like I know, that the brutality is going to continue and not a single substantive thing has been done to stop it.
On Saturday afternoon, I spoke to a crowd of hundreds of college students – most of whom are young women of color. Without fail, each and every one of them told me that it pains them to stand up for the national anthem. Many said they stopped singing it years ago. I did as well.
I haven’t cared to sing the anthem for a good 15 years. Does that mean that we hate America? Does that mean that we hate soldiers? Does that mean that we are spitting in the face of people that have sacrificed their lives?
It means that right now, we don’t feel like singing a love song to a country that seems to love black culture but not black people. It means that we don’t believe many words in this song or in the Pledge of Allegiance.
This is not the land of the free.
This country does not have liberty and justice for all.
Colin Kaepernick was tired of lying, so he stayed seated. He just had enough courage of convictions to actually do what so many of us have thought of doing for years.
And here’s the thing, if you are angrier today with what Colin did than you have ever been about police brutality and the painful denials of justice that inevitably follow, then you, not Colin, are the real problem.
Source: New York Daily News