Colin Kaepernick hasn’t said much publicly since he first began protesting police brutality and racism in the United States by sitting or taking a knee during the National Anthem.
FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2017, file photo, Colin Kaepernick attends the 2017 ACLU SoCal’s Bill of Rights Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. A visit by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to New York’s Rikers Island jail facility has drawn a rebuke from the union representing city correction officers. The head of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association tells the Daily News that Kaepernick’s presence at Rikers on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, will encourage inmates to attack jail guards. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
The silence of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has caused many to speculate— some pundits close to Kaepernick have suggested that he simply doesn’t trust journalists enough to talk to them. But according to people who have actually worked with Kaepernick over the last year, the young quarterback-turned-activist has avoided the media, particularly when he’s doing charity work, to prevent people from thinking he’s only doing it for publicity.
“ knows that if (his charity work) is covered by ESPN, that would signal that he’s in this for public relations,” said Cat Collins, an informal adviser to Kaepernick who assisted him during his $1 million donation pledge program, as cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Kaepernick had pledged to donate at least $1 million of his own NFL salary during the 2016 season to different programs around the country that work to raise awareness of racial and social inequality. He finished fulfilled that pledge within 10 months, and none of it was covered by any of the major media companies.
“They intentionally didn’t have any media around, but Kaepernick was setting up the chairs, he was the guy stuffing the backpacks for the kids, he sat through every workshop,” said Raj Jayadev, the justice coordinator for De-Bug, an organization based in San Jose, Calif., that focuses on social justice within its community. Kaepernick had not only donated $25,000 to De-Bug but also put in real hands-on work with the group.
Collins told SFChronicles.com that Kaepernick knows some publicity could actually help the cause, but too much publicity only comes off as self promotion.
“I think he’s got to walk that line between staying true to who he is, and also getting enough buzz going where it will help make the world a better place.”