Eric Holder, President Obama’s first attorney general, had only been on the job for a month when he called out the whole damn U.S. of A. for its timid reluctance to talk about race in an open and honest way. “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”
Conservatives already didn’t like Holder before, but they were really pissed at him for being rude enough to remind the nation this isn’t a post-racial paradise. When Black people tell White people things like this they are going to get crushed for doing so. This is where Colin Kaepernick finds himself in today.
If you’re a professional athlete and you’re actively supporting Black Lives Matter, you’re putting yourself in the frying pan. If you refuse to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, you’re cooked. America loved Muhammad Ali after he got sick and no longer dangerous, but they don’t want NFL players walking in his shoes.
As a longtime San Francisco 49ers fan, my interest was rekindled when Jim Harbaugh selected Colin Kaepernick as the quarterback to lead the 49ers back to somewhere Alex Smith never could get to: The Super Bowl. They came up three points short to the Baltimore Ravens, but the future looked bright for the Niners and Kaepernick looked like the guy to return the franchise to its Montana/Young glory days.
Only four players remain from that 2012 Super Bowl runner-up and after today’s final roster cuts today while Kaepernick is still one of them, it’s only as the $11 million back-up to the wretched Blaine Gabbert.
The scourging of Colin Kaepernick takes several different lines of attack.
“Kaepernick is a rich, well-paid football player who should shut up because where else is he going to enjoy this level of success.”
Because only poor people have the right to protest?
“Kaepernick is a lousy football player who should be cut, traded or ride the bench in San Francisco. Who is he to say anything?”
It’s true Kapernick is not the hot property he once was, but he is an American citizens and American citizens are not required to stand and observe the National Anthem. This right extends even to professional football players. Incredible, yes I know.
“Kaepernick isn’t Black so what does he know about how Black men experience racism?”
That one came courtesy of NBC Sports’ Rodney Harrison. Harrison, who suffered at least 10 concussions in his playing days and was suspended four games in 2007 for using Human Growth Hormone, later “apologized” for questioning Kaepernick’s racial roots because he didn’t know Kaepernick was Black.
I can’t even.
“I acknowledge Kaepernick’s right to protest, but since America is one of the least racist countries on the planet, he’s protesting about the wrong thing.”
Here’s the thing: if you only agree someone has the right to protest when you agree with what they’re protesting about, you don’t really believe in the right.
Kaepernick is not the next MLK. He’s not the next Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali or any other Black athlete who has stood up (or sat down) to protest the racial inequities of America. He’s the first Colin Kaepernick and he’s following the light all those before him cast upon the darkness of American racism.
Some guys don’t get it. Like Rodney Harrison. Some guys do like Bart Scott.
“I think the death of Muhammad Ali has stirred the pot. It has moved the needle to where athletes are becoming socially conscious. They’re not concerned about the bottom line. They’re not concerned with their dollars. They understand that they have a voice and [they’re] almost ashamed of how they used their voice in the last 20 years since Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor, Muhammad Ali stepped up for social change. Now, guys are ashamed and I think they’re going to try to do something about it.
“We just honored the same man that we persecuted back in the day. It’s always the right time to fight for justice, fight for what you believe in. It’s never a convenient time to talk about what you believe in. You’re supposed to wait til tomorrow? Until he’s not a player? Who’s going to listen? If he had tweeted, who would have cared?”
The way this supposedly washed-up, scrub QB is being vilified, scorned, mocked, and damned, you would think he came out of the huddle, ripped off his jersey revealing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt, and then pulled out an American flag and set it on fire on the 50-yard line. All he did was remaining seated on the bench instead of standing for an anthem that has lost its meaning for him.
Maybe Kaepernick eventually goes and maybe he stays. Either way, the 49ers are going to suck. This is a rotten team. and the bookmakers give them the least chance to make it to the Super Bowl. I knew this before this drama jumped off so where Kap stands on the national anthem, Black Lives Matter or being able to check down to a receiver probably isn’t going to make much difference to the overall product on the field.
American history is soaked in the blood of Black people. It is the nation’s Original Sin and it didn’t end as much as it evolved. If it hasn’t why are we still having this discussion. Racism is a cancer, not a bruise. It goes dormant and then it blazes back to ferocious life.
White Americans have a remarkable talent to ignore the past, sugarcoat the future and hope the future never comes. This works for them until every so often someone like Colin Kaepernick comes along to remind them, that’s the America they created for themselves. It’s not the one Black Americans live in.
Thanks, Colin for reminding the rest of America, but its gonna cost you.