It seems the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick has become somewhat of an cult leader … you’re either for him or against him—or at least that’s what the media wants you to think.
Just over two weeks ago Kaepernick, backup quarterback for the 49ers, caused a stir when he decided to sit during the singing of the National Anthem. In a statement given exclusively to NFL media after the game, Kaepernick said,
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … 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.”
Forbes contributor Brian Mazique wrote,
“[Alex] Boone and many others have painted the protest as a slight to the armed forces and veterans who have served in its branches. That’s preposterous, to say the least.”
I agree. Kaepernick’s statement was not a slight to our armed forces personnel—but it was a statement against the law enforcement professionals who put their lives on the line to serve and protect domestically.
And that’s where I have a problem. Kaepernick’s blanket statement is riddled with problems, not the lease of which is his lack of supporting evidence to back up his claim. Rather, it is a parroting of the mainstream media’s early accusations of police brutality before proper facts and evidence have come out. Blanket statements aren’t getting us anywhere as a nation. It’s time to dial down on specifics so we can make true advancements in our nation’s racial disharmony.
Like the nation, many in the NFL are divided on support for Kaepernick. Last week, at the opening regular season game, which fell on the 15-year anniversary of 9/11, the Seattle Seahawks made their own statement. In a show of unity, the entire roster, several coaches and other staff linked arms and stood for the playing of the anthem.
Doug Baldwin, wide receiver for the Seahawks told reporters “The message we’re sending is that, yes, there are things in our country that need to be changed. But that’s why this country is so great, because we’re never afraid of facing those challenges head on.”
Kaepernick’s statements are perpetuating the division, not trying to solve the issues we’re facing. That’s exactly the opposite of what our country needs right now. Both Kaepernick’s statements and the ensuing media coverage have only served to further the gap in our already divided nation.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, have made it their mission to build a bridge. Starting quarterback, Russell Wilson said, “It comes down to appreciating one another.” The African American community has gone through so much, Wilson said, but not every police officer is bad nor is every African American.
Guest author: Kristi Reed is a freelance writer and photographer living in SE Asia with her family. She is actively engaged in combating global injustice, ending modern-day slavery and documenting current world events. Kristi is currently seeking a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University.
Read more from Kristi Reed: What makes a story go viral? | The Decline of Professionalism and Customer Service | The Microagression Generation | Four Things you are Doing Right now That Contribute to Slavery