There’s always one. Or, in the curious case of Colin Kaepernick, there are several. Who is they? The set of token negroes with dwindling relevance ready to publicly speak against Black protest.
“Wait, what happened?”
Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player with the San Francisco 49ers, decided to exercise his rights by sitting during the US National Anthem in protest of the numerous law enforcement-civilian murders of Blacks & Latinx. When asked why he sat, he expressed that he would not participate in saluting the anthem of a country that continues to mistreat Black people.
“Whoa, that seems pretty un-American, Danyelle.”
Kaepernick, as a citizen, is granted the same first amendment right as everyone else: entitlement to free speech against the government without fear of retribution from the government. Unfortunately, many Americans think the right to free speech means they can say whatever they want on the Internet without risk of catching these hands. Interestingly enough, many Americans actually think that freedom of speech applies to everything BUT speaking out against the government. Well, at least when that is vocalized by a body of color.
“Well aren’t the Veterans offended?”
As with any group, veterans aren’t a monolith. There are some who are angry as hell. Then there are others in the #VeteransForKaepernick trending topic on Twitter who are not. These veterans remind us not only what their duty has served, but also that they are often still people of color in and out of uniform.
Don’t use my service–or that of any veteran–to justify the silencing of black Americans. Not on my watch. #VeteransForKaepernick
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) August 31, 2016
Thanks for your service, sir. And thank you for
being with the shits using your platform and privilege to be vocal about this issue.
“Hmm. Well if he’s truly just exercising his rights, no one could be mad right?”
Well seeing as the first overwhelming responses were some rendition of “Go back to Africa, nigger”, wishes for career-ending bodily harm, and/or threats of how millions of immigrants would love to take his place, I’d say people were big mad.
The most interesting part of these responses is their illustration of Kaepernick’s purpose in protesting in the first place. The fact that people have the audacity to make such statements that threaten Kaepernick’s citizenship simply illuminates the idea that the lawful humanity is conditional for People of Color, particularly US-ian Blacks.
“Danyelle, that just sounds like a bunch of angry racists. Surely he’s found support from other Blacks.”
Mostly he has. He’s even gotten some notable support from Jim Brown, John Carlos, & Kareem Abdul Jabar. But as I said, there’s always one.
“Well, who’s that one?”
In this case, there are a few.
Tiki Barber, a former NFL player, stated “I don’t commend him for sitting and not honoring this country and our flag.” Gee, I wish he had this much honor for his pregnant wife when he left her after 11 years while she was 8 months pregnant with twins. Bless his heart.
Rodney Harrison, a former NFL safety
of dwindling relevance and current sports analyst, said that Kaepernick isn’t even Black. He actually says “I’m a black man, and Colin Kaepernick, he’s not black,” Harrison said. “He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people or people of color face on a every single (day) basis when you walk in the grocery store, and you might have two or three thousand dollars in your pocket and you go up into a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you’re about to steal something. I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.” He later apolo-lied for his diarrhea of the mouth.
professional coon former 49ers wide receiver, went to campaign for white check bat in defense of the flag, tweeting:
All lives matter. So much going on in this world today.Can we all just get along! Colin,I respect your stance but don’t disrespect the Flag.
— Jerry Rice (@JerryRice) August 30, 2016
Oh, Jerry. Weren’t you complaining that your MVP win would have received more media attention if you were white? So much has changed for you since 1989, I guess.
Mass national media is expert in controlling a narrative. They also seem to have a never ending supply of Uncle Ruckus-variety Blacks to regurgitate said narrative. As expected, there was a massive clapback campaign of “Git Somewhere & Sitcho Ass Down” for this band of characters. The problem is that there are so many of these kinds of negroes. Negroes who are literally ready to tap dance for white dollars at the expense of Black liberation and national discussion on grievous social issues.
“But why protest the Anthem? Our military fought and died for it & everything this country represents.”
I needn’t reinvent the wheel here. John Schwarz did a perfectly fine job of explaining this on The Intercept:
Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.
Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812.
You can read more here: Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery
“Oh. I didn’t know.”
Most people don’t. It’s not something taught in your average civics course. We are, however, taught from kindergarten to assume American arrogance rather than patriotism. We are matriculated in the belief that America is greater than any other country in the world. We are taught to view our military industrial complex with God-tier reverence. Associated with that are the emblems of our country: the flag, its anthem, and associated symbols of “freedom.” This arrogance is why it is so difficult to fathom Kaepernick’s actions.
American historical atrocities against First Nations, Black, Asian, & Latinx lives have been sanitized in our school history books. 5 year olds are taught to recite the pledge of allegiance before learning arithmetic. We have military veterans who are homeless, unemployed/underemployed, and lacking access to much needed health care. Yet somehow, we only seem to care about their service in November and May. Many Americans carelessly say that the military fights for our freedoms, but then seeks to silence the exercise of those same freedoms. Usually because those who are upset about the protesting haven’t had the same lived experience. You can’t understand what it feels like to be marginalized when you’ve generally had the upper hand. And no, poor whites, that doesn’t exclude you. Absence of one privilege doesn’t preclude the presence of another.
“Colin Kaepernick is a millionaire. Surely he’s not oppressed.”
Money doesn’t transcend institutionalized racism. Money makes it easier to navigate in society, but it doesn’t negate Blackness nor all that is associated with it. Americans love to boast of “working hard” to accumulate wealth. Kaepernick’s millionaire status was not simply handed to him. He plays a physically brutal game (that I highly enjoy) that could end up costing him dearly later in life. He’s earned enough money to live comfortably, but not enough to stake ownership in the team he’s played for on his retirement.
Interestingly enough, there’s not a single Black owner in a league that is staffed with 66% Black players. Make of that what you will.
If anything, Kaepernick’s willingness to risk financial stability/gain for the sake of millions of others outside of his tax bracket is laudable. It also puts him among the ranks of American heroes such as Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali who also acted in protest of treatment of Blacks in America. That saddest part of this commentary is that there is still a need, over 4 decades from Robinson’s time, to still protest.
“But as an NFL player, he’s representing the country!”
So was Ryan Lochte when, as a 30 year-old man, he destroyed a gas station. While representing the UNITED STATES swim team in the Olympics. Only to have his actions written off with the sentiments of “boys will be boys,” affording him the protection of child-like innocence. A sentiment not afforded to Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, or Mike Brown.
But that seems to be lost in the stoked ire of American allegiance and patriotism.