Over the past few years, we have seen a number of Black athletes–both men and women–stand up and speak out about the police and state violence that African-Americans and people of color disproportionately face in this country. We can now add San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to that growing list.
On Friday during a pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers, the 28-year old refused to stand during the national anthem. When asked afterwards why didn’t he stand, Kaepernick said that it was a protest to the wrongdoings against Blacks and minorities in the United States.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “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.”
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick added. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
And while there has been some serious pushback and criticism to Kaepernick’s politics, team officials stress that it is within his right to not stand, NFL.com noted.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem,” the Niners said in a statement.
According to USA Today, the NFL also weighed in on the issue saying, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”
And looking at social media, people are here for Kaepernick’s courage to stand up for what he believes and not be that “just shut up and play” type athlete:
Folks also called out the hypocrisy around this “patriotic outrage,” especially given the flurry of racist Tweets being spewed toward the football player:
You see you Colin!