“I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if they only knew they were slaves.” -Harriet Tubman

A big current issue in our nation as we speak is obviously the Colin Kaepernick situation. I can go on about this topic forever but I will write my thoughts here. Many discussions were birthed from this subject. Within this subject are many sub plots that make the situation more polarizing. The main thing that bothers me is the people that oppose it. Now don’t get me wrong. Our country gives you the right to stand for what you believe in, however, the majority secretly does not want that right for African Americans. People such as Trent Dilfer, made comments calling Colin a Back-Up QB, “who should know his role.” That made Randy Moss give him the stare of Death and made Kaepernick fire back telling him to check flawed ideologies at the door.

Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National anthem has sparked a movement across the nation, as even high school and college athletes are following suit. South Park creators is said to be targeting Kaepernick in their new episode; Ben Roethlisberger spoke out against him; and Kid Rock just outright said “F*ck Kaepernick.” As ignorant as they sound, you cannot fault them. They probably have just not faced the injustice and oppression that Kaep is speaking of. That is understandable but my problem is with the “bruthas” who are speaking out against him, calling him wrong and “unpatriotic.”

It’s bad enough that everyone else fails to understand WHY he did it, and choose to only focus on his act instead of the reason behind his act, but the real mind boggling issue is when those that are the one’s that he is standing up for turn out to be the one’s alienating him. It’s problematic when those that should understand, and those that have likely faced this oppression, publicly go against the brother. The black opposition makes me question why would they go against something so big? I have a few theories…

“If you are comfortable with my oppression, then you are my oppressor.” -A. Phillip Randolph

If you still stand for the flag, that is your right and I have no problem with that. Honestly, it seems that the safest thing you can do if you are an African American athlete is to either keep quiet or play both sides. Well, not for Cam Newton, who said he doesn’t get “how 1/8 of an inch of skin” could make such a big difference. Yea I had to laugh at that too. Especially, after the hell he faced last season for his touchdown celebration’s, which he attributed to him being a “black Quarterback.”

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant of the NBA, gave their opinions, stating that they respect’s Colin’s stand, and just this week LeBron James advised all that he will not be one sitting for the National Anthem, and he went on to mention that #alllivesmatter. In other words, big ups to the fence straddlers.

If the neutral subjects and overt critics were not enough, President Obama suggested that he supports Colin’s protest of the anthem but when asked the question by a veteran he offered a different opinion.

“I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. I also want people to think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot. One of thing I saw about American democracy is that it can be frustrating, but it’s the best system we’ve got.”~ President Obama

Nevermind the President, I understand him being caught in between a rock and a hard place but how about people like Ray Lewis, who offers very different opinion than his former teammate, Shannon Sharpe. I respect Ray Lewis the football player but I feel like he misses the point on many social issues. Like a lot of people, he played the military card even though many veterans have shown support for Colin. This is the very same military who gets treated like crap when they are done fighting in the wars that we do not even need to be in. Colin isn’t against the military, he is against injustice and he has stated this countless times.

Jerry Rice and Victor Cruz have offered criticism against sitting for the flag and retired NFL’er, Rodney Harrison spoke out as well, as he went as far as challenging Colin’s blackness. Sit down Rodney. Should his nationality even matter? If anything him speaking out as a biracial player speaks volume’s about the other black players choosing to remain silent. To add insult to injury, Kaepernick’s former teammate, Michael Crabtree went out of his way to distance himself from Kaepernick and his protest by stating, “I just play football, I ain’t no Martin Luther King.”.Meanwhile, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, who is an elderly, Caucasian man has voiced support for the cause and NBA Head Coaches, Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich has acknowledged the same issues that sparked Colin’s protest.

“The American idea of racial progress is measured by how fast I become white.” -James Baldwin

At the end of the day to deny that the disparities between how blacks are policed compared to how white’s are policed would be to defy reality. To be honest I think that brothers are scared or only interested in their money. Standing up or in this case sitting down is not for the faint hearted or the selfish. What protester have you heard of that was not hated by many? Martin Luther King, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown are just a few. Though times are different, the hatred is still the same but the visibility is more prominent with the help of social media. The public outrage is easier to see nowadays and many players just want no parts of it no matter the good cause. Too many, the burned jerseys, hateful tweets, protests against them and possible loss of endorsements and work are just not worth it. To guys like Carmelo Anthony, Shannon Sharpe and Colin Kaepernick the cause is bigger than the backlash and the need for players like that is always present.

For many of these players they elect to trade silence and obedience for millions. Either that or they just truly are unbothered and removed from most of our realities. Colin Kaepernick has lost a lot of his endorsements because of his utilization of his free speech. This proves to show you that the masses love us until we start talking and not entertaining them. Colin’s protest has taught American’s many things. One not all of us believe in the first amendment. Two, many of us choose to act oblivious to the validity of his reasonings to protesting. Thirdly, not many are willing to risk those checks for the sake of morality and change. The fear of ruffling feathers and upsetting superiors is alive and strong so they figure that if they stay in pocket like they are “supposed to” nothing will happen. Majority of the homicides against black lives at the hands of police shows us that is a lie. Don’t be blinded by fear and ignorance.

“Ignorance allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” -James Baldwin

~Gene Stamper

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