Whenever people want to get away from the woes of society, they turn to a few escapisms. People escape through music, movies and, well, sports. What a way to avoid, just for a moment, to be subjected to politics, race, personal bills, or relationship issues. You can speak freely on anything from running yards to what questionable choices are being made by your favorite sports organization. All is well laughing and drinking a beer with your buddies until that fatal moment. The moment a sports player makes a decision as a human being to exercise a choice every one has a right to in this world. I would like to introduce you to Colin Kaepernick. Oh, you know him already. Do you?
After a stellar performance at the University of Nevada, Kaepernick was drafted in 2011 by the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick made a name for himself on the football field since being picked up professionally. Not long after the shoulder injury and losing the starting position, Kaepernick made the choice everyone eventually faces at some point in their life. What’s more important… your job or you? As a man being half-black and haunted by the oppressive experiences on African-Americans, he decided to take a knee during the National Anthem during a preseason game in Summer 2016. Colin took a stand, or knee in this matter, in defiance. Just as the OJ case caused such an obvious split of opinion on race in America, so did Kaepernick’s choice on the sidelines.
Throughout the whole year of 2016, stories upon stories upon stories were written about the decision Colin made and soon news coverage on his political decision overshadowed his role as a football player. Initially, the owners supported his opinion but it may have been a short-lived stance.
Since the infamous knee during the National Anthem, Colin has made many guest appearances at Know-Your-Rights workshops in a number of urban communities. The meetings trains African-American youth and people of color on how to deal with corrupt police that perform criminal acts within marginalized communities they patrol. In December ’16, Colin made a promise to donate 1 million dollars to grassroots organizations in oppressed communities, he recently donated $50,000 dollars to the Meals on Wheels program after President Trump proposed cutting its funding in the latest budget bill and coordinated with Turkish airlines to utilize a 60 ton cargo plane to deliver food to hungry Somalians. Also, along with other celebs, Colin assisted in promoting a GoFundMe fundraiser accumulating nearly $2 million for Somalians as well. YouTube’s Casey Neistat and Snapchat’s Jérôme Jarre who created “Love Army for Somalia” campaign reached out to over 60,000 people to donate to the East African country in their time of need.
In a whirlwind of philanthropy, you think this man would be considered an iconic god in the eyes of the NFL. After all, isn’t this what they want when selling players to the American public? Apparently… not. Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent. It seems all NFL organizations are ostracizing Colin from any QB contracts. As stated by Shannon Sharpe in a clip posted on March 24th on the Facebook page Undisputed on FS1, Shannon speaks on the double standard of Colin’s lack of prospects to other organizations as a quality QB. Honestly, this conversation is not new. My clearest image of this discussion is the famous image of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics when they raised their fists at their medal ceremony. As soon as a player makes a statement that goes against the status quo of the sports industry and the country, players are swiftly punished.
In 2017, the idea of Colin stuck in free agency because of his actions says mountains about the unsaid word of race in our country. The more America seems to move past the agony of old racial wounds, the more we remain caught in the twisted web of its seedy machinations. The ideas of slave and master. Freedom and control. Oppression and liberty. Equality and bias. How are we still here? How do we break free that will allow everyone to breathe a sigh of relief that we’re moving in a positive direction?
The unfortunate truth is we, as Americans, haven’t dealt with race, as we all should be. America sweeps it under a rug, it gives people hush money and fame and a few concessions to satisfy its conscience. America says, “Yeah, we did wrong. Whatever. Here, take this.” All the while their other family member still undermines the “others” value as they walk away. They see it out the corner of their eyes. They know but they refuse to come to terms. If they do, that would mean to fully let go in all its form. It will threaten and challenge all they have known. The educational system, T.V., radio and all other questionable methods of information reinforces their belief of who we all are. It’s not just the relationship of white and black but also Native Americans. Immigrants. Muslims.
If racism in America is approached like the disease as it is and treated, then that would not just have a profound outcome of Colin’s future in football but also police brutality, the racial wealth gap, job diversity, the prison industrial complex, healthcare, business, politics, etc. In a 1968 episode of The Dick Cavett Show, James Baldwin says, “I don’t know what most white people in this country feel, but I can only include what they feel from the state of their institutions.” His statement is as hard hitting today as it was said in that television studio. America’s institutions say all I need to know about its progress in race relations. And right now it says little to the hope I have in America’s growth.
Written by Nova Phoenix