This past Aug. 26, San Francisco 49’ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s act of sitting out during the national anthem gained widespread attention after a beat writer for Niner’s Nation tweeted a photo of him not taking part in the act.
That day after the game, Kaepernick told the media his actions were fueled by the injustice’s people of color have been facing, and he further solidified his stance two days later when he stated to the press: “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
Since then Kaepernick has received support from fans and fellow athletes. On September 19, four NFL Philadelphia Eagles raised their fists in a show of black solidarity during the anthem. On September 21, the entire Indiana Fever Team and two Phoenix Mercury players from the WNBA locked arms and kneeled during their pre-game anthem. And Richard Sherman of the NFL Seattle Seahawks refused to take any questions during a news conference and instead chose to express his frustrations after more police shootings had come to light going.
“I think people are still missing the point,” Sherman said. “The reason these guys are kneeling — the reason we’re locking arms — is to bring people together, to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street.”
You would think that a player using his platform to point out the blatant injustices people of color have been experiencing would be something that everyone would applaud, but of course, he has faced all kind of criticism and comments for his actions; from sports journalist Stephen A. Smith who ludicrously stated that he hoped players who were protesting “are just as willing to bring attention to black on black violence” to former presidential candidate and Donald Trump supporter Ben Carson who expressed that he felt Kaepernick was disrespecting the anthem and the flag. Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in a book interview that she felt the protest was “dumb and disrespectful.”
Whether by using black on black crime to take away from the issue at hand, or accusing Kaepernick of being unpatriotic, the reality is that these killings are real, these injustices are happening. But rather than trying to find a solution to this insistent and pervasive issue, those who have been privileged enough to not have to experience the kind of oppression colored people in America experience daily, instead choose to bicker over petty trivialities, fearing that if they recognize the realities of the downtrodden, they’d have to give up the very privilege that affords them the luxury of ignoring the situation.