Proving to be another member of the growing CPM (Conscious Player’s Movement), Colin Kaepernick did not stand during the national anthem before his exhibition-season debut Friday night and admitted afterward it was a political statement. The age of the informed, outspoken African-American athlete is here.
“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 told NFL reporters. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
(Photo Credit: nfl.com)
The 49ers issued their own statement and refused to take any action against Kaepernick’s passionate stance:
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team’s statement began. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens."
“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
This isn’t an uncharacteristic stance by Kaepernick if you follow his Twitter and Instagram posts.
Kaepernick has often used his social-media platform, where he has over two million followers, to express his personal perspectives on on race, religion and politics. He conducted his last two media sessions, Wednesday and Friday, wearing a cap with an ‘X’ in honor of civil rights activist Malcolm X. He's live and direct with it.
The fact that the 49ers have supported him when some people have taken exception to his “disrespecting” of the National Anthem shows how far professional athletics and society has come.Twenty years ago, the NBA suspended the Denver Nuggets’ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf one game for sitting during the national anthem and eventually his religion and actions that appeared anti-American got him blackballed out of the league.
(Photo Credit: theislamicmonthly.com)
With his career in limbo and his performance on the field a far cry from where it was when he cracked San Fran’s lineup and almost took them to the promise land in 2012, Kaep probably feels like he has nothing to lose.
Kaepernick is of mixed race (African American and European) and was adopted as a child by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick who are both white. He has surely had his share of run-ins and harsh “black moments of realization” over the years, while existing as a mixed kid in a white world.
The police violence in this country perpetrated upon Black people has touched his sensibilities the same as it has many of the Black athletes who realize the only thing between them and a bullet is a ball and their families are at risk in this current climate of hostile police-civilian relations.
(Colin Kaepernick and his adopted parents)
Kudos to the 49ers for not making the PR nightmare of a mistake that the WNBA did by fining the groups of players who wanted to express themselves through a change of wardrobe earlier in the season. After some major public backlash, the WNBA rescinded the fines.
The NFL is smart enough to understand that when superstars and respected players from a league that is 70 percent Black begin to voice their opinions on issues that are ravaging this country, it should step aside, support the players, and keep it moving.