Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Eastern Echo Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo


Why Kaepernick should move on

It’s time for Colin Kaepernick to forget about playing professional football. It’s not because of his inability either. 

The former San Francisco quarterback who led the 49ers to the 2012 Super Bowl – their first since 1994 – set the world on fire during last season with his decision to protest state-sanctioned racial injustice and years of systematic oppression of people of color, as well as the bastardization of black culture.

I am a black male. While I understand fully the message and malcontent shared by most African-Americans, these protests as of late have been diluted, their message forgotten and muddled, with the active participants not only losing sight of the actual, real reasons of the protests, but now the NFL owners, fans and even the President has been involved, although not to offer and insight and positivity. It was especially interesting to notice that no one even noticed the first two times that Kaepernick knelt during the anthem. After the third time, he was asked by reporters why he was kneeling. 

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said to reporters last season. 

It’s as if the band sold out and signed to a major label. It’s like when your parents join Facebook and send you a friend request. It’s mainstream, and now it has morphed into a left vs. right wing circle jerk that dominates the 24/7 political news cycle. 

The same reasons are why I am over these players NFL protests. It’s not that the players are wrong for still choosing to kneel during the anthem. Without a doubt, the non-violent, silent protest has shed light on America’s centuries long sordid history that the founding forefathers would probably want unexamined. However, players locking arms and now with their team owners is basically a smoke screen to avoid talking about the real issues that plague us as a nation, as well as the ineptitude of our 45th POTUS. For black men like myself, there’s a joke from Chris Rock that perfectly sums up my feelings about the nation; America is like the uncle that paid your way through college, but molested you. 

Another reason is that the players’ responses were so few and scattered, it was hard to decode who was on Kaepernick’s side. That all changed at a September 22 Trump campaign rally held in all places, the great state of Alabama where he offered these remarks, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out! He’s fired!”

Kaepernick could very well leave the game and find another way to get the message across with his platform which is what I would do if I were he. He’s still respected, he’s a charitable force who uplifts and donates to urban localities and he’s transcended the game of football. Why worry about signing with a team this year or next? Why take the hits on and off the field? No team will touch him and it’s because he’s a young black man speaking out on subjects that people either will never understand or refuse to understand. It was Trump’s remarks that turned the protests into another Tucker Carlson talking point for his show. And it was liberals’ fault for letting the protests lose luster. It was their fault for also using the protests as a feeble opportunity to land partisan blows against the president like that would work. For some reason, the democrats haven’t figured out that the more ridiculous stuff that 45 tweets, the more his base eats it up, and since they’re the ones who vote regularly and vote for him no matter what, the more firepower they have. 

"Our inner cities will find a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity," Trump said at a Louisville campaign rally last year before bringing up Kaepernick's free agency. "Your San Francisco quarterback, I'm sure nobody ever heard of him."

When black people speak out against injustice, particularly athletes, we decide to scold them and ridicule them for reasons that remain unclear to me and many other fans. It’s a ridiculous notion that they should stick to sports and not voice their frustrations over social justice issues, and its usually accompanying the narrative that I must support the military, police forces and basically all authority, no matter what. Coincidentally, this is all taking place as we move closer and closer to authoritarian rule in America. The uncle molests us again and there’s no one to tell. 

No disrespect to our service men and women, and the police, but I was fighting for my own freedom in Southside, Lansing long before you ever thought of joining the military. I was fighting long before you decided to join the police force. That’s a fact. And I’m a lot older than you think, not some 19-year-old freshman that you can play the age card with. 

By the mid-1960s, the nature of the civil rights movement began to change. African Americans, began to diverge in their views over what political action should be taken to improve their situation. Members of different groups within the movement increasingly expressed their dissatisfaction with other groups. More radical groups, including the Black Muslims and black power proponents, voiced discontent with the limited goals of the civil rights movement and its advocacy of nonviolence. With the intervention of Trump, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and now the fans, owners, conservatives, liberals alike, this movement – which started out as a protest about real issues that will probably never get fixed – like minorities and the LGBTQIA community receiving equal rights under the law – will fade out silently. If the owners involve themselves, they all share the mindset that the players will feel that the owners are behind them, and then they can stop the kneeling before the national anthem. It’s well-documented that the NFL Owners largely lean right, vote right, and donate right. To avoid another large scale Public Relations disaster like, well, this one and past others (the Ray Rice incident, Deflate-Gate, the NFL not actually donating money for Breast Cancer research, etc.) the owners want the players to stand up, shut up, and be good little minions for their bosses during the national anthem. Not Colin Kaepernick. Not the 200 NFL players that have taken knees to date, and not this once great fan of the league either. It’s time to move on.