"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."
-- Colin Kaepernick
It would appear that San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick has sent flag-waving pro football fans into a tizzy with the stand he made on Friday night.
If you somehow missed the shitstorm on Twitter, at Friday night's game, Kaepernick remained seated on the bench when the National Anthem was played. When asked he said he would not show pride in a flag for a country that has for centuries oppressed people of color.
Apparently his willingness to take a stand when young black men are being shot dead by police while the officers go on paid leave has left white football fans in the dark. Professional football (along with baseball and auto racing) at times seem nothing more than delivery vehicles for a pro-militaristic, pro-imperialist philosophy that we are all expected to bow down before.
In the eyes of professional sports (and to some extent college sports), true patriotism means supporting military operations overseas - regardless of the reason young men and women are being sent to another country (generally one populated by people of color) to kill, rape and destroy.
On occasion we hear a hue and cry for athletes to take a position on some hot button topic of the day. But that would seem only to apply when the athlete takes the position that the mainstream wants them to take. Pat Tillman is lionized because he walked away from football to join the army in order to invade a sovereign nation. Colin Kaepernick takes a stand against racism and racial violence and he is pilloried by the ignorant masses.
And, speaking of the ignorant masses, you might want to take a gander at this article by The Intercept's Jon Schwartz. It seems that if you listen to more than the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner the symbolism gets a bit complicated and messy.
Francis Scott Key was a slaveowner when he penned the song. For those who don't remember your history, Mr. Key wrote the anthem after the attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 - a war that was fought because the United States decided to invade Canada. During the war the British promised a life of freedom for any black man who enlisted to fight on their side. They also made promises to the Native Americans (who were already learning that the US government was not to be trusted).
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
-- Star Spangled Banner
Of course I could write many more posts about the intellectual dishonesty of the phrase "land of the free" but I'll save them for another day.
Colin Kaepernick may not be the best quarterback in the league - he may not be the best quarterback on his own team - but he is the most courageous. By taking a stand against racism and racial violence in America he is risking his own livelihood. If he is cut by the 49ers he may find he isn't welcome by any other team in this proto-fascist league.
Thank you, Colin, for taking a stand.