Diehard American nationalists have mostly frowned upon political activism among Black athletes. Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the pro football team, the San Francisco 49ers, is the latest Black athlete to unleash a firestorm of controversy.
The fact that he sat down, instead of standing up when the National Anthem played was his supposed sin. Colin assertive in justifying his actions said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” I say right on Colon. Not only is it your right, it displays your solidarity with the Black struggle not as an athlete first, but as a Black person. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
Colin Kaepernick stands for a cause that all true patriotic Americans need to embrace. The diehard and mis-directed patriots say he does not support our troops. His comments have nothing to do with supporting or not supporting the troops.
You know what? No one should blindly support America’s wars. These wars and interventions have been fought to make, defend, and secure profits for the rich. Too many soldiers to be counted have been killed, maimed, or wounded to fight for stuffing big business pockets.
We need to still remember those Blacks that put their sports celebrity second in the modern civil rights era such as Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, on their support of Muhammad Ali when Ali refused to be drafted.
Remember the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico where sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos “bowed their heads while standing with only their sweats and Black socks to symbolize poverty in America. They raised their black-gloved fists during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner”. These modern day pioneers set the stage for today’s athletes.
Derrick Rose wore the “I Can’t Breathe T-Shirt” – the words from the mouth of Eric Garner before he succumbed at the hands of the police. NBA stalwarts LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Jarrett Jack, Alan Anderson, Deron Williams, and Kevin Garnett took Derrick’s lead.
Lest we forget the brothers from the St. Louis Rams Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin stopped near the tunnel and raised their hands in protest to the killing of Michael Brown.
The WNBA Minnesota Lynx team adorned their “Black Lives Matter T-shirts” to support the movement against police misconduct. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwayne Wade called for social action at the Espy awards.
So brother Colin Kaepernick, you are in good company. Continue to sit down to stand up.
The struggle continues.
Kenneth O. Morgan is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Urban Studies Program in the Department of Criminal Justice and Applied Social and Political Sciences at Coppin State University in Baltimore.