When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled before a preseason game last season, the supports and jeers were immediate.
But the largest and most blatant character assassination of the man and his activism has come from members of the mainstream sports media.
When I read the column written by Rob Parker, a fellow Shadow League contributor, I was disappointed. Parker asks “Where Are Colin Kaepernick’s Frat Brothers?” in his latest column.
Well, I can answer Parker’s questions directly.
The first people to rally around Kaepernick after his protest were his Kappa Alpha Psi brothers.
I know that because I am a Kappa.
While on ESPN's First Take....my frat brother & Steelers DB Ryan Clark shouts out the frat while talking about San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick....who is also my frat!! YO!
Many of my fraternity brothers got wind of Parker’s column and were heated. Some of them wanted me to pay him no mind, since he is clearly and blatantly wrong. Other Nupes wanted me to drag him.
Instead, I’m to going to educate him.
What Parker seems to be unaware of is that some of Kaepernick’s most vocal and loyal supporters are his fraternity and it members.
Parker, along with a lot of other folks believe that Kaepernick’s activism started in the social media era and that he shouldn’t be taken seriously because his activism was seen as “Johnny come lately.”
“Anyone who wants to characterize this as some new black awareness on his behalf just simply doesn’t know him or didn’t do the diligence,’’ Reg Stewart, director of the Center for Student Cultural Diversity at Nevada-Reno when Kaepernick attended the university, told USA TODAY Sports last year. “It’s not like I turned on the TV and was like, ‘Wow, where did this come from?’ I was like, ‘You know what, he has been thinking about these issues for at least the time I’ve known him.’ ’’
And when Kaepernick searched for an organization to assist in his yearning for activism, he looked up the Kappas at Nevada-Reno.
“You could tell he was searching for some type of platform where he could make a difference," Dean Bart-Plange, who was the fraternity’s president when Kaepernick inquired about joining the Kappas told USA TODAY Sports. “He was saying he wanted to do more than just football. He felt like he needed to make a difference.’’
Our motto at Kappa is “Achievement in every field of human endeavor.” And one of those endeavors consists of supporting our “noble brothers dear.”
(Shadow League Contributor Evan F. Moore with his Kappa brother Colin Kaeprnick)
One of the first NFL players to step up for Kaepernick after his initial protest was from his chapter, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
Marshall, a fraternity brother and college teammate of Kaepernick’s, took a knee during the National Anthem before the season opener last year against Carolina Panthers.
For his trouble, Marshall lost two of his endorsement deals. Even the language used by the companies, Air Academy Federal Credit Union and CenturyLink, were carefully worded to show their disapproval of Marshall’s stance.
“We completely respect Brandon Marshall's personal decision and right to take an action to support something in which he strongly believes. America is anchored in the right of individuals to express their beliefs,” CenturyLink said in a statement. "While we acknowledge Brandon's right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments. For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him.”
Remember, this was the same CenturyLink who was fined $16 million by the FCC in 2014 for failing to notify authorities of a programming error that left nearly 11 million people in seven states without access to emergency services for six hours.
Maybe Parker ought to ask where was CenturyLink when people needed them?
Also, the fraternity released a statement to the NFL last week calling for commissioner Roger Goodell to stop Kapernick’s obvious blackballing.
A few months ago, I attended Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” Camp in Chicago. I was one of two journalists invited, the other was The Nation’s sports editor Dave Zirin. Many of the men who brought children to the camp and assisted in making sure things went smoothly were Kappas.
After speaking with Kaepernick, I gave him “the grip”, and he had the biggest smile on his face. And I told him that he had the support of the Nupes in Chicago.
(Photo Credit: Evan F. Moore)
And since we’ve come up on the one-anniversary of his protest, the question remains.
Was he wrong about what’s gone on in our country?
Were people shocked about the way he went about it?
Parker used the same rhetoric we’ve seen used to stomp out insurrection anytime Black people have historically stood up for themselves.
“Where’s Black Lives Matter?”
“Why aren’t they protesting in Chicago?”
“When will Black people care about Black Lives?”
Like the folks who’ve used the aforementioned faulty talking points, a quick Google search always prove them wrong.
And Parker’s faulty rhetoric folded faster than a U-Haul delivery box.
While NFL owners are reportedly worried about fan backlash if they sign Colin Kaepernick, SI Now's Robin Lundberg argues that there will be harsher blowback, for the NFL in general, if the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback doesn't find a team.
As someone who covers the intersection of sports, violence and politics, who has also covered a lot of protests and rallies, the question of who does this and who doesn’t is complex. People who engage in activism have several different roles. Some are outwardly leading an action/protest, while some make signs or document what’s going on via social media or photography.
Just because you physically see someone not doing the work, doesn’t mean they aren’t participating. Everyone has a role in the uplift. And sometimes, they don’t want us to see it.
Along the way, I’ve watched otherwise intelligent people not know what to make of what Kaepernick has done. Honestly, I expected this type of rhetoric from people such as Jason Whitlock, Sage Steele, Sheriff David Clarke and Ray Lewis, who’ve all spent a lot of time caping for White Supremacy.
See, anywhere Kaepernick and any other Kappa goes, they will have a home.
To further clear things up for Parker and for anyone else who has doubts and asks the question - where are the Kappas?
We’re basically everywhere. The Senate, police precinct, the firehouse, the newsroom and most importantly, we’re in the community.
If anyone needs to find us, that’s where we’ll be.
And to attack us in such an uneducated manner is the very definition of a fool’s errand.
By the way, we aren’t “Bruhs.”