Making a Stand by Not Standing
by Hannah Musgrave
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49’s Quarterback, has recently received a lot of attention regarding his decision not to stand for the national anthem. He deems his refusal to stand as a way of promoting attention to crucial issues in the United States, which he believes need to be addressed and fixed. Kaepernick has gone from sitting unnoticed during national anthems, to taking a knee in honor of the military forces, and now pledging to donate $1 million in proceeds to several charity groups that help racially discriminated communities and individuals. Kaepernick started off with a simple action of resistance and now has turned it to a movement with a goal; to help the “oppressed” citizens of the US.
In his interviews he speaks of racial discrimination and police brutality being his concern, he himself being biracial and having incidents of police persecution, but also problems no one can turn their heads to at the moment. With #BlackLivesMatter trending among social media and the vast numbers of black males shot and perishing, in primarily impoverished cities, bringing awareness and concern nationwide that can’t be overlooked, he is determined to make a change. He then goes on to generalize his statement as “the minorities” who are “not treated equally” or given an “equal amount of opportunity in the US”. This could incorporate more than just racial discrimination, it could speak to homosexuals who are being harassed, feminists who are fighting for equal rights, it could speak to many diverse groups of people and individuals who do not feel fully supported or protected by the US; one being Women’s Olympic soccer player, Megan Rapinoe.
Megan relates to Kaepernick in feeling like a minority and tells Julie Foudy at ESPN “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.”, she acknowledged how important the conversation is that Kaepernick has started and included her hopes of furthering it. She plans to stay kneeled during future national anthems in a “nod to Kaepernick” and support to the oppressed citizens of the United States.
Megan is not the only professional athlete that has stepped up and mirrored or supported Kaepernick’s movement, so far there are 9 individual athletes and the whole team of NFL Seattle Seahawks, who have taken various postures alongside Kaepernick during the national anthem. On September 11th, before the season opener against the Miami Dolphins (in which 4 team members kneeled also in support to Kaepernick), the Seahawks stood together with embraced arms to make a statement of unity and aid to issues “bigger than football”, stated by Doug Baldwin, their wide receiver. Kaepernick has received a wide range of support, from Steph Curry to Obama, and although there is this positive feedback, Kaepernick has received much more criticism from fans, other NFL players, coaches, and more to come.
In an interview with NFL Media, Kaepernick acknowledged all the negative outcomes his actions have already brought and are to bring, then stated that he does not care about the approval of others, “If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.", he continues to tell that he will not be seen standing until there is significant change and he believes the flag is worth saluting.