Saturday, June 10, 2017

Did Colin Kaepernick's Protest Fail?


theatlantic |  Colin Kaepernick won’t stand for the national anthem because of what he sees as systemic racism in American society. But in the days that followed the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s protest, the national debate hasn’t been about his motivation for sitting, but the method of sitting.

Critics have called his actions unpatriotic and disrespectful. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has even chimed in, saying Kaepernick “should find a country that works better for him.”

The wide array of criticism not only comes from political figures (Hillary Clinton hasn’t addressed the incident, while White House officials called his perspective “objectionable”), he’s also facing pushback from his own colleagues in the NFL.

Players have been widely quoted as saying they disagree with what they say is disrespect toward the American flag. Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, said Kaepernick “can speak out about a very important issue,” but it shouldn’t “involve being disrespectful to the American flag.” He told ESPN on Monday:
Like, it’s an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.
What if Jackie Robinson had sat during the national anthem during the 1947 World Series, as the baseball great wished he had 25 years later, knowing “that I am a black man in a white world?”
But if the discussion, for the most part, centers on whether sitting for the national anthem is an appropriate means of protest, did Kaepernick fail? He sat because of what he perceives is racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. That’s not what his colleagues or politicians or even the media are talking about four days after the incident.

Or did others fail in this debate? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA legend and activist, wrote in The Washington Post:
What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem, but that nearly 50 years after [Muhammad] Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.
Kaepernick sat for the national anthem to spark a debate on racial injustice, but he sparked a debate about how we should protest in this country.