The Bravery of Colin Kaepernick's Anthem Protest
There are very few things in this country that generates the vile and sometimes violent backlash as someone questioning American jingoism and blind, flag-waving patriotism. Not the kind of patriotism that seeks to hold America up to the lofty standards it sets out for itself. That's the kind of patriotism that should be endorsed and supported. I'm talking about the ultra-nationalistic patriotism. The patriotism found in totalitarian and fascist states that attacks and bashes anyone who questions the honor of their respective countries.
What Colin Kaepernick did recently was hit the hornet's nest of the latter form of patriotism, not the former...and I think it's incredible! I wrote an opinion piece for Atlanta Blackstar three days ago that described why I felt (and still feel) that Kaep was right in what he did. I honestly thought it was a one-day news story, but this bird has some wings and it's flying high right now.
What Kaep did was brave and courageous because he knew what he was doing was not going to be popular and that there would be a serious backlash that he'd have to deal with. That is the textbook definition of courage. The people who aren't courageous are his fellow football stars (some of whom are retired) who are joining in on the verbal assault that this man is now under right now. It's not strong or courageous at all to be the pet Black talking head on ESPN or the NFL Network being used as a media pitbull to do white America's dirty work. There are always going to be Black people looking for a bone, looking for the proverbial "butter biscuit." This is true even now post-Integration where you have some Blacks who willingly commit acts of self-delusion to believe a lie about this country and what it does to Black people. In a way, it's a type of Black elite privilege. In a way it's also been around for longer than just the post-Integration era...I just think it's become much worse since the 60's.
Rodney Harrison recently made the ignorant argument that "Kaep isn't Black" due to his bi-racial background when Rodney is maybe a slight shade darker than Kaepernick himself! Not to mention there is no shade requirement to speak out about the oppression of Black people. Let's cut out the colorism please Rodney. Thank you.
Hall of Fame wide receiving legend Jerry Rice also put his foot in his mouth with an "All Lives Matter" appeal that came off more like the words of a scared Black man not wanting to lose his job, than a leader of men willing to take a stand when it's not popular to do so.
Luckily however Black social media has put its full power behind Kaepernick and has shown strong support for the decision online. I'd hope more Black athletes would follow Kaep's lead, but I'm smart enough to know that's highly unlikely. People care more about that paycheck than they do state violence and institutional racism and that's just a fact. Individuals can often times be courageous, a group of people who are controlled by contracts and who are told not to "rock the boat" often times are not. It's a sad state of affairs for Black America right now. The self-delusion of many Americans to the horrors of state violence runs deep and doesn't just impact conservatives, but liberals as well. You have a lot of liberals out here who may not be as pissed as conservatives, but they still don't like what he did. It hurts to write this because I myself am a progressive liberal.
Our very national anthem pays homage to slavery as a recent Intercept article breaks down. People don't realize, maybe because they don't want to realize it...or maybe they support it, how heavily influenced this country is by racism and white supremacy. In many ways, we live in a safe "post-racial" bubble that shields us from acknowledging the horrors of the past. Well, it's time to burst that bubble and thanks to Kaep, we're having a real debate here about patriotism that is long overdue.