BY DREW SISKIND
In the past two months, one of the nation’s biggest headlines has been San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who, in protest of racial injustice, has not stood for the National Anthem before games.
Kaepernick, along with fellow NFL players who have joined his movement, has received every response imaginable for his continued action, ranging from praise to hateful condemnation.
But the hatred has overshadowed the support.
According to ESPN, a poll by E-Poll Marketing Research recently named Kaepernick the NFL’s most disliked player. The social justice activist beat out alleged rapist Jameis Winston by a margin of 7 percent. The top five was rounded out by Ndamukong Suh, who has been fined multiple times for dangerously violent play; Tom Brady, an accused cheater; and Ben Roethlisberger, another accused rapist.
But calling Kaepernick the league’s most “disliked” player is an understatement. He has received death threats and racist messages on social media — most of which are similar to the following tweet from James Rustle: “[I hope] you tear your [ACL] next game stupid n*****.”
Kaepernick’s critics claim that he is disrespecting the US and its veterans, but this could not be further from the truth.
The US was founded based on the premise of the power of the people, so that the majority of citizens could correct a corrupt government when necessary. This was made possible by the first amendment, which allows for freedom of expression for all.
Kaepernick is following true American ideals by practicing this freedom for its exact intention.
Although many feel it is not right to not stand up for the flag, the flag is nothing more than a symbol. To many, it is a symbol of the soldiers who have fallen for our country. But to Colin Kaepernick, it is a symbol of the institutional racism and overall mistreatment that he and black people face every day. Symbols are to be interpreted, and to tell Kaepernick that his interpretation is wrong is a result of pure, although sometimes inadvertent, racism.
To label his symbolic view of the flag as inferior is a result of the denial of the hardships that go along with being black in America. It is a result of the fear that black people will one day be equal and the advantages that come along with being white in America will no longer exist. It is a result of the pure racism that has been passed down for generations since before the US was founded. It is an effort to stop these aspects of America from changing by keeping unacceptable American values intact.
Many say that he should have just spoken out rather than being “disrespectful,” but speaking out would have been a futile effort in comparison to the actions he has taken.
Three months ago, four NBA superstars (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh) came together to speak at the ESPYS — a show viewed by 5.4 million people — about racial divide and gun violence in America.
These players were commended, and deservingly so, for their assumption of a certain role as celebrities in society and their willingness to take initiative, but their speech did not get nearly the amount of attention that Kaepernick has gotten.
Speaking out promotes a purpose, but it fails to accomplish what Kaepernick has done: challenge the norm. He has challenged the comfort that many white people take in the fact that they are treated as superiors in society. He has challenged their view that the U.S. is perfect and must be praised at all times. He has challenged racism.
It is important to challenge America’s principles, as the country is in fact far from perfect. From the day the Constitution was written, racism has been embedded into our society and government.
Throughout our country’s history, black people have been deprived of rights that have been granted to all other people, and today police brutality against black people goes unpunished.
We must support Colin Kaepernick in his call for change and applaud him for his brave and effective course of action, as we must take every possible step towards ending racism.