Growing up a minority in this country forces you to look at America in a different light. We don’t get that second chance a lot of the time, you fuck up once and it’s a wrap in most cases. That’s whether you were in the wrong or not, once you’ve been found guilty in the court of public opinion you might as well call it a night. Colin Kaepernick has never been arrested or been in any trouble during his NFL career, or life for that matter. All he did was protest something dear to his heart and the Trump supporting demographic treated it like it’s the end of the world.
Now, I say the Trump supporting demographic for one reason, I refuse to classify all white people into one group. I know plenty of white people who are down with Black Lives Matter and truly understand the fight we as minorities go through daily with law enforcement. To throw them into this group of narcissistic, old-school, stay in your lane mentality is not just wrong, it is dangerous. We can’t look at those people the same way NFL owners look at Colin Kaepernick.
For months, I’ve heard guys tell me that Kaepernick wasn’t being signed because of “football reasons.” I called bullshit from the beginning, but I let it play out like the rest of the sports world. A simple google search of the New York Jets QB depth chart proves the point that Kaepernick still had a spot in this league. Back up QB’s from the arena football league got try-outs, not starters, but backups.
I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that a guy who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality was being black balled from the league. Especially when NFL rosters are filled with guys who have been accused of DUI, domestic violence, rape, etc. Meanwhile, Kaepernick who has never been in any trouble is being told what he did was crossing the line. Crazy when you sit down and break it down to the simplest form, isn’t it?
Historically silencing people’s freedom of speech is how you stop a revolution. Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, the list goes on and on. If they find a way to silence one, they will eventually find a way to silence us all. It’s the system again telling us to “stay in your lane.” They want to make money off Kaepernick but not let him be a spokesperson for a fight that affects many of Americans across the country? Athletes and entertainers have a powerful platform and their voice is vital for causes like this.
We live in a country where soldiers sacrificed their lives for us to be able to protest peacefully and say what we wanted, unless it was hate speech. And I know what some of you are thinking, “Him kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to the fallen soldiers and flag.” That statement is false.
Soldiers do not die so we can do what they want us to do, they give their life so we as Americans are provided with the freedoms that the constitution contains. That’s the bottom line. For someone to say otherwise is ignorant to the reality of life.
The 1960’s were all about civil rights, and it’s terrifying to me that in 50 years we have made some progress but there are still ways to go. That slave master mentality is still there from the white owners in this league. It feels like they’re telling Kaepernick to stay in his lane or else. The fact that they are checking the egos of sponsors and fans to see if signing a player makes it clear that this has nothing to do with football. What am I supposed to say to my son one day when he asks me about this? Am I just supposed to say, “Son, if you speak out against the system that is killing your people they will eventually try to mute you.”
Fuck that. I’m going to teach him to speak out about issues that affect him and people who look like him. That’s why we need Kaepernick to keep it going and never stop. We need people pushing for equality and justice.
What we need less of is former players like Ray Lewis and Michael Vick not supporting the cause. How can Ray Lewis tell Kaepernick to stop talking about activism? You can’t preach morality when you were the main suspect in a murder investigation. And Mike Vick did federal time! How is he going to tell Kaepernick to get a haircut? For real? Behavior like that makes the people in charge feel like how they act is acceptable. It’s not.
What terrifies me the most about this whole situation is that I’m slowly starting to realize that racism will never die. It will only evolve and that genuinely makes me sad. None of us are born racists. None of us are born hating a certain type of person because of their religion. None of us are born hating anyone. That is all learned behavior that you learn from years of being exposed to a very one-sided way of thinking. Do I see us fixing that issue as a nation soon? No, I don’t. That’s why we need to be the generation to start the movement and break the norm that we have been accustomed to.