Dear Colin Kaepernick,
Last Friday, you chose to remain seated while the National Anthem played at Levi’s Stadium before the 49ers preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. This action provoked a huge response across all media platforms….from cries of first amendment rights, to 49ers fans burning your jerseys. You awoke the “patriotic giant”, so to speak.
And while I’ll be the first to say that I respect your right to have an opinion on social issues….I also respect mine. After all, that’s what makes America great, right?
To begin, let’s be honest – you knew what you did would evoke emotion and attention. Your quote (below) has been read by millions of people with responses flooding the Internet.
“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.”
So Colin, here’s the problem. Although this was clearly the point of your actions….to rile up the crowd and get the nation talking – you chose (in my opinion), a cowardly approach. While it’s true that people are talking, your choice of platform has evoked a response that is a far cry from the issue to which you wanted to bring attention.
It’s easy for people to take shots at the irony that you are a black football player making millions of dollars a year playing a professional sport while claiming to be “oppressed”. And some even like to point out that you should stand up from a bench that you will probably sit on most of the season, or post memes of your large house, shoe collection, and other items of oppression that you own. However, I prefer to take a different approach to your statement. While I don’t think your individual circumstances should negate your opinion, I DO know that I was (as many Americans were) deeply insulted by your method of delivery.
Not standing for the National Anthem makes a non-verbal statement to everyone watching. I was not watching the screen thinking of how brave you are to stand up for black lives….I was watching the screen thinking of what a coward you are to sit down in spite of sacrificed lives. I believe your quote to be true…but only the first part. You stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country”, and you could have ended it there. This is the statement you made. Or maybe you should have re-phrased it to read “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for MY country….MY country that has offered me great opportunity, to play a game….A GAME….and get paid millions of dollars to do so. I am not going to stand up for MY country that allows me the freedom to make this statement in the first place. I am not going to stand up for MY country or the men and women, black and white, who sacrificed their lives to get me here. I am not going to stand up for MY country.
Colin Kaepernick, despite your current difficulties on the field, you are still a large name in the NFL and on social media. If you’d like to make a statement, you have a million ways to do so. I fully support your right to state your opinion, but it needs to be presented in a respectable manner. It is very hard for me to value the opinion of people I don’t respect. I can look past your bicep kisses, I can stomach your arrogance that exceeds ability, but not standing for the National Anthem has cost you my respect, and my attention.
The next time I hear “The Star Spangled Banner”, I will stand up (as I always do). I will stand up and think of my grandfathers who served in WWII and the millions of others who have sacrificed. I will stand up and think of the men and women who are away from their families at that very moment – so that I am afforded the privilege of watching an NFL football game in this great country. I will stand up and be thankful that I have the freedom to voice my opinion on this matter, and any others that I choose.
I will not, Colin Kaepernick, stand up and think of you.