Colin Kaepernick Shows That #BlackLivesMatter Even When His Career May Not

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San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose last Friday to remind America that black lives matter. It’s a laudable goal, and one for which he should be commended. The role of the black athlete in addressing pressing social issues has moved from the “risk it all” activism of the 1960s to the “Republicans buy sneakers, too” attitude of the ’90s to athletes ready to risk it all at the peak of their powers today. Which is why Kaepernick’s move is so bold and brave. His NFL career is hanging by a “second” string, and with his actions Friday, he’s risked more for the movement than any black athlete in recent years.

On Friday, after what would be an otherwise totally unremarkable preseason football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, some intrepid cameraperson noticed that Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem. When asked later by a reporter why he didn’t, Kaepernick, in an exclusive interview after the game, told NFL Media: “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.” Kaepernick went on to say that he didn’t care if he lost endorsements over his position; he wanted to make sure he stood up for what is right.

Above all else, Kaepernick is absolutely right and should be applauded. The national anthem is a racist song, the federal government hasn’t done enough to protect African Americans in the face of institutional racism, and Kaepernick knows that just because he is a wealthy athlete doesn’t mean he’s not endangered by police brutality and racial discrimination. Just ask tennis star James Blake or the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha.

Read the rest at The Root