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Opinion: NFL Quarterback Brings Race Into Forefront

Sports Opinion Column

By: Keaundrey Clark |

In a year when professional athletes are using their platform to show they have a voice and aren’t just puppets of a machine, another athlete has thrown his hat into the ring, giving way to another discussion of race.

San Francisco 49ers embattled quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not stand up and pledge to the American flag for the first two preseason games of the NFL season. Some people have come out in support, while others have said this is a slap in the face to those who protect this country.

Kaepernick received attention that was unavoidable, he did not seek the attention, yet he found it. He did not hide from the scrutiny, he confronted the critics and doubled down on his stance. Kaepernick was blatant, unflinching and unrepentant. He gave it to everyone who is scared to have an actual discussion on race.

“To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick told reporters on ESPN. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

While most are angry with Kaepernick, going as far as burning his jersey, they are missing something. Kaepernick and his ability to protest and speak for himself is as American as it gets. Even if you’re offended, you should respect the fact Kaepernick had the balls to stand-up and take a stance. True change doesn’t start til someone in power has been offended.

In America you are told you have a voice and you are encouraged to use it. Yet when race is brought into the forefront, that person who wants to use their voice is often told to shut up. In some cases they are told you should be lucky to even be here (a call back to slavery). Whether you sense it or not, most white people are okay with how minorities are treated in America, that is why Kaepernick’s words have caused anger, that is why things won’t change.

Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem has been met with the critique that he should stand for it because he is wealthy and America (especially the fact football has made him so) has been so well for him.

Even though he has achieved a level of success that most Americans will never reach, the argument that being success requires that you not speak out against injustice is hysterical because it’s so stupid and ignorant. Keep sitting Kaepernick, because whether you realize it or not, your actions have pissed a lot of people off. That’s when real change starts.


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