Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback who sparked controversy after kneeling during the National Anthem, is under fire yet again. Kaepernick recently appeared in a Nike ad, which stated, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Many people were angered by this. The ad made its debut in late September and was immediately faced with both support and backlash.
Many people believe Kaepernick, who has had previous problems with the NFL, shouldn’t be in an ad promoting Nike. As a result, some people began burning their Nike shoes and clothing in protest of the company’s affiliation with Kaepernick.
Let’s be honest here. As a Black woman, I am more than pleased and have a deep appreciation for Colin Kaepernick’s decision. It’s about time people jump out of the ignorance part of the pool and be thrown into the reality part, which of course, is significantly deeper. The reality is, that the issue of racism in America, which goes back to slavery has been something that my family has constantly experienced. My family on my dad’s side are all from Mississippi. The deep south in the 1940’s was not a happy place for African Americans. My great grandparents were sharecroppers, and their parents were slaves. My Great, great Aunt was hanged, and is in the book of hangings of African Americans. So, this issue is something that has hit my family personally. And even now, being afraid that my father, my uncle, my cousin, will be pulled over and killed by a police officer for being a black male, is not normal. I should be able to look up to the police as my protectors. The fact that I cannot, is a call for action. It’s ridiculous that a man using his right to protest, peacefully, by kneeling during a song written in 1814 has caused such outrage.
It’s ridiculous that a man using his right to protest, peacefully, by kneeling during a song written in 1814 has caused such outrage. As stated previously, the ad in front of Kaepernick’s face read “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” First and foremost, it is important to remember that Kaepernick’s protest is necessary. It’s clear that his intention was to bring awareness to the fact that black men and women are being discriminated against and killed every single day. Because of this, he refused to stand for the National Anthem that reflects this idea of America being the greatest nation in the world. After the 49ers football star quarterback kneeled, many other football players followed suit. The Miami Dolphins wore shirts that read “IAMWITHKAP”, in support of Kaepernick’s actions. The team also locked arms during the anthem, and five members kneeled.
The fact that people would burn their Nike clothes and shoes purely because Kaepernick decided to take a stand against brutality is beyond many of us. The black community suffers every single day. This summer, an Oakland white supremacist slit the throats of two black women, killing one. An off-duty police officer walked into an apartment she believed to be hers and shot the black man that actually lived there. How many more senseless killings before it is acceptable to protest? At what point will people realize that it is an issue? When exactly do black lives matter? Keep in mind at the time the United States National Anthem was written, slavery would not be abolished for another 51 years. The National Anthem projected freedom and equality, while black men and women were still slaves, suffering, with no rights whatsoever.
This has nothing to do with veterans. It is not a way of disrespecting those who have fought for this country. It is a way of bringing light to the injustices black men and women have faced in this country. The Nike Ad may have been controversial, but it’s about more than what scrapes the surface. It’s time for people to stop ignoring the way America treats black people, who have fought in just as many wars for the United States as white people. For people to be angry about Kaepernick’s choice shows ignorance, shows the inability to respect people who have suffered for 400+ years simply for having a different skin color.
We are constantly preaching diversity and change, yet people are unable to understand why a black man would kneel during the National Anthem. No, people only want to change to a certain degree. They do not want to fully open their eyes, for fear that they will be forced to address. Kaepernick took that chance. He took what he believed, and he went with it. He made sacrifices, gave up his good name and value, to fight for his people. Only when you let go of your ignorance and embrace the idea of change and equality for black men and women will you understand. Let them burn their Nike clothing, and criticize Kaepernick and all those who stand with him. But it will not change the fact that black men and women will never again tolerate the oppression that was created to keep our people under.
“Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. It is the enemy of freedom and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.” -Pierre Burton