Colin Kaepernick may be a pain in the ass to White America, but from this observer’s perspective, he may be just what Black America needs right now. Little Black boys and girls need to see what a strong, principled, committed and unapologetic Black man looks like. They need to be shown how true character responds under pressure. They need to witness firsthand a Black man standing up for what he believes in, no matter what the cost. Little Black boys and girls need a hero. And not one approved by White America.
It’s been decades since a Black man stepped up on behalf of Black people to challenge America to be America. And that’s exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing. By calling America out so publicly, his protest is putting the country’s dirty racist laundry on blast. His protest is telling the world America is not what it pretends to be. Refusing to stand during the national anthem is Kaepernick’s way of saying America is not the land of the free, where equality and justice is the norm for all.
Kaepernick’s protest has started a conversation America would prefer not to have. Not now. Not ever. What if the Kaepernick protest inspires others (and it will) to stand with him and not for the national anthem? How does White America explain to their kids why Black players are always kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, when the White players stand? How will Black athletes explain to their kids why they didn’t take a knee in support of racial injustice?
Some are already wondering how this issue will play out in the workplace. Will White fans feel uncomfortable discussing football around the water cooler with Black fans this year? Will talk of the protest be avoided, so as not to expose one’s position on the issue? Will human resources directors in corporate settings send out a memo outlining how management can help keep the workplace neutral until they know which direction public opinion is flowing?
And then there’s the classroom environment. How will educators handle the discussion when students inevitably bring the topic to the fore? How will high school and college coaches deal with Black athletes who begin to view Kaepernick as a role model to follow? Will they be penalized or ostracized for sitting, kneeling or showing a general lack of respect for the flag? All these questions and more have been forced on America by one man with the balls to take a stand on one knee.
Bottom line: Up until now, Black players were advised (on the down-low) to just shut up and play. They were told to keep their opinions and politics to themselves. They were told to remain focused on the game and stay as far away from controversy as possible. They were told they represent their franchise, not their race. Those who’ll tow this line, will be guaranteed millions. Those who don’t won’t. Up until now, the Black athlete feared the consequences. Well, that is, up until now. Podcast below.