Sunday, September 11, 2016

Colin Kaepernick's protest

“He’s exercising his Constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so.” — President Barack Obama, September 5, 2016 

I'M SURE by now you've heard about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand for the national anthem before games as a means of protesting racial injustice. 

I often get chills and sometimes tear up when I hear the national anthem.
Paul calls me his Yankee Doodle sweetheart. But loving one's country should never mean being blind to its faults or injustices, and it should never, ever, ever be "my country, right or wrong." 

So Colin, I stand . . . or in this case, sit . . . with you, friend. 

One of the things that makes our country great, at least in theory, is the freedom to criticize it for whatever reason, wrong-headed or sound, but most especially so when our nation veers from the path of honor and justice. It's called freedom of speech, codified into the very first constitutional amendment, and as Americans, we're supposed to cherish it. 

It's not called "freedom of popular speech." I think it takes no small amount of courage for 
Mr. Kaepernick to adopt such a public and what he surely must have known would be an unpopular position. 

Here's what I think IS shameful? The Bay Area police union threatening to boycott 49ers games because Colin Kaepernick doesn't stand while the national anthem is played. 

That's right, according to NBC, Santa Clara police have threatened to stop securing Levi’s Stadium at 49ers games as long as Colin continues to protest during the national anthem. Now that smokes my bacon.

Yup, the police who took an oath to protect and serve apparently are only going to honor their sworn duties if they like how Colin comports himself. 

Evidently they believe they get to pick and choose who they protect and serve and under what circumstances. Never mind that this public they may or may not protect are the ones who, through taxes, pay their police salaries. 
When it comes to our police, how did the cart get SO in front of the horse?

Below is an opinion piece from The New York Times by a San Francisco resident and long-time 49ers fan.

What Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Looks Like to a Black 49ers Fan

By Gerald Harris

August 31, 2016

San Francisco — Why are we, as sports fans, continually surprised when one of our heroes turns out to be a real person, with real feelings who is living in the same world we also live in? And when that athlete is black, why does white America respond with anger, as if the hero has broken some kind of sacred rule or understood deal? That deal seems to be, “You just go out and win games, collect your check, and if we really like you, you can retire and sell us stuff in TV commercials.”

Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for San Francisco, the city I love and pay a lot to live in, is the latest in a long line of black athletes who have decided to be real people with real concerns about the black community. This tends to happen when issues become so pressing that they break the heart of the athlete and pierce a wall they might choose to stay behind.

It was the Vietnam War for Muhammad Ali, the civil rights movement for countless others. For Kaepernick, it is the way black and brown people, just like him, are treated in the United States. He felt he could no longer stand for the national anthem at the beginning of 49ers games. In an interview published Saturday, he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

I imagine I share with Kaepernick nightmares of the killing of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and so many others. As an African-American father of two sons who live or work in San Francisco, I fear their lives, or mine, might be taken unjustly in a confrontation with the police; the same police I respect and depend on to protect my community and keep it safe.

Click here to read the entire article. 


  1. I have no interest in football but Kaepernick has caught my attention. His bravery and persistence is admirable in a land of shallow, fake patriotism. If we don't stand for the right to protest, we are no longer America. Freedom of Speech is the First Amendment and he has the right to exercise that right. Cheers to him and to all those who stand with him.