“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” quotes Colin Kaepernick on why he didn’t stand for the national anthem at the preseason game in August.
Kaepernick has been sitting, or kneeling, in his games this season to make a point that he believes, “is bigger than football.” He has decided to take action against racial oppression in an unique, and very publicized, way. Recognizing the injustice of matters related to this topic, he has created a timeline on his twitter feed outlining events such as the shooting of an unarmed black man in Milwaukee as explanation for his recent decision.
Using his position and status, Kaepernick can successfully raise more awareness about instances related to this broad issue. The NBA’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and several WNBA players have also used this tactic for other circumstances.
Kaepernick did not let anyone know about his objectives for protesting the anthem and his team was not aware of his intentions during the game.”This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said, “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed […] If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
The 49ers released a quote on the event that read, “In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.” Athletes do not have to stand for the national anthem in the NFL, which Kaepernick has used to his advantage.
Kaepernick says he has talked to his family about his emotions and after recurrent events of civil unrest, he chose to take action. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he said, in reference to the cases of police brutality against black civilians in recent months.
Abdul-Rauf of the NBA Denver Nuggets was another player who was briefly suspended by the NBA for not rising for the anthem- using similar reasons to Kaepernick’s. He later came to an agreement with management and continued to stand for the national anthem along with his team.
Fans and other athletes have reacted negatively and positively to Kaepernick’s actions. Jerry Rice tweeted “All lives matter. So much going on in this world today. Can we all just get along! Colin,I [sic] respect your stance but don’t disrespect the Flag.” Kaepernick has remained seated in games previous to the preseason match against the Greenbay packers, as an NFL reporter noted in a tweet.
By Callie Solberg