Due to his protest rather than his playing, Mr. Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 was one of the biggest news stories of the year.
Enacting a silent resistance on the sidelines, Mr. Kaepernick became ubiquitous in the American news media for refusing to stand during the national anthem; his discreet defiance attracted criticism by some of the same individuals who were distressed by the loud, aggressive and in-your-face protesting which became germane to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In his resistance to inequity and racism in America, Mr. Kaepernick didn’t explicitly attach himself to any civil rights group but rather was just one man taking a stand by not standing at all. His high-profile kneeling sparked a movement of its own, with athletes across the country mimicking his action.
However, Mr. Kaepernick’s movement, or at least its most public part – the football star last year hosted a ‘Know Your Rights Training’ in Oakland and donated $1 million to charities who assist communities in need – shall soon become motionless at a time where activism abounds nationwide. If 2016 was worthy of such a protest by an outraged Mr. Kaepernick, than 2017 – which at its onset gifted the country with the Trump administration and a seemingly never-ending saga co-starring Russia – warrants a revolution. But instead of amplifying his activism while the country appears woke and engaged, Mr. Kaepernick is muting his movement.
On Thursday, various sports blogs reported that Mr. Kaepernick – who is said to have hired new agents and plans to on Friday opt out of his contract with the 49ers, thus becoming a free agent – will discontinue his method of protest due to the positive change he believes has been created and the level of discourse now occurring on the topic of social inequity, not to mention the solidarity shown by other players proved that his message had been delivered. Cynics on the internet say that Mr. Kaepernick’s decision to halt his protest is motivated by a desire to appear more marketable and less controversial to the other teams in the league.
I’m inclined to lean towards the opinion of the cynics, only because a huge chunk of Mr. Kaepernick’s reasoning doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. He said positive change has been created, but how is that measured, given that the news media and reality for many Americans reflects a hostile and troubling political climate? Among Mr. Kaepernick’s greatest concerns was police violence, yet he suspends his protest two days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions – who will recuse himself from any investigations into Mr. Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign’s ties to Russia – announced the Department of Justice will no longer monitor troubled police departments accused with civil rights violations; one would think that announcement alone would send Mr. Kaepernick into overdrive rather than neutral.
To be fair, Mr. Kaepernick has already done more than he was obligated to do, given he could argue, like other celebrities articulate, that he has no obligation at all. Mr. Kaepernick is man and truly owes no one but himself an explanation for his decisions.
However, because he is, indeed, a man, he should also finish what he started… the fight isn’t over. If anything, Mr. Kaepernick should be moving his protest from the sidelines into the streets.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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Photo Credit: Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images