Kaepernick Has Nothing To Complain About
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence walked out of the Colts vs. 49ers' game last weekend when several of the 49ers knelt during the National Anthem. He was appalled, as was our president. They tweeted about it. All the news networks covered it. This is a priority for them.
If you're like me, this has been a confusing time for you. Especially if like me, you have family or friends that are as appalled as the two most powerful men in our country. I can't tell if those people, whom I love very much, don't understand what is messed up about this. And I can't talk to them about it, not at least in the most convenient, ever-permeating medium of social media. Dare I discuss it in person? Don't really want to ruin a good family hang. They happen all too infrequently as it is.
I've heard people I love and respect say things like, "Colin Kaepernick has nothing to complain about. He's a freakin' millionaire!" at which point I'm thinking, "Wait a minute, he's not protesting for himself. It's for racial injustice. What you're saying makes you sound racist. I don't want to think of you as a racist. I don't want to think of you like I think of our president and vice president."
I think the most reasonable position to have about this type of protest—refusing to stand during the National Anthem—was expressed most succinctly by Literate Ape co-editor, Don Hall, when he said, "It is the epitome of a non-violent protest that disrupts nothing and exposes no one to potential harm. I am wholeheartedly in favor of non-violent, non-screaming protest in every case."
This kind of protest is the most American thing I can imagine. Exercising your freedom to make a statement, whatever you believe, doing so respectfully, silently, harming no one. Seems reasonable to me. Deliberate while remaining considerate. Effectively bringing national attention to a systemic social ill without violence, without shouting... that seems like magic to me in today's society.
Remember certain protests of racial injustice in which highways were blocked? Many complained about that. But that was sort of the point anyways. As a white person, we are rarely, if ever, inconvenienced by our skin color, whereas a person of color experiences such inconvenience daily. Far worse, other days.
People that complain about protests inconveniencing their lives is sad and upsetting to me. But people complaining about protests inconveniencing the aesthetic of their pre-show entertainment or going on about disrespecting the troops and confusing the intended message, is sadder still. Especially when it's your family or someone you consider a friend.
Don also recently said in his October 2nd installment of I Believe, "...that if your allegiance is to a symbol rather than people, to a song rather than citizens, you might be a racist or you might not be a racist but you are definitely a jackass."
Have you seen anyone other than white people express their disgust with this form of protest? How about any soldiers calling it disrespectful to them? I have not.
How about this old chestnut? "Stick to entertainment!" If by chance, you someday are lucky enough to be paid millions to play a game, I'd hope you'd use your celebrity and influence to encourage us all to better humans.
Use your platform, if you've got one for those who don't. Giving a voice to the voiceless? That's superhero shit.
In the end, the outrage is not even about what it's pretending to be about. Those outraged are operating under the pretense that this form of protest is disgracing our country. In reality it is their outrage which is truly disgraceful. Those outraged are just taking their cues from our commander-in-chief who has proven to be, without a doubt, our nation’s greatest disgrace. They've drunk the Kool-Aid. They may even know, deep within themselves that it's all distraction, but it's too late, they think. They're dug in too deep. And we go on eating it up, while the country is literally burning.
A distraction from what? Aside from the players’ protest of racial injustice? Take your pick. Puerto Rico, gun control and the Las Vegas massacre, healthcare, all this while Santa Rosa and countless other Northern California towns suffered complete devastation. All this while blocks of homes and businesses burned completely to the ground. All gone. Ashes and spooky, disembodied stone chimneys are all that remain.
Funny what constitutes priority to our nation's current leaders.
But Kaepernick has nothing to complain about.