by Ryan Manseau
On Fri., Aug. 26, the 49ers faced the Green Bay Packers in Levi’s Stadium. When the National Anthem played, everyone on the field rose except one player: Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick didn’t rise because he will “not stand up and show pride for a nation that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick also kneeled for the 49ers’ next game, and didn’t kneel alone, as other athletes joined him.
The first things that athletes are taught is to be a good sport, from going through the high five line at the end of the game to standing for the National Anthem. I don’t believe that a football game is the right time for a racial protest, simply because the focus of a game is to play the sport. There is a time, a place, and a need for a protest that demands equal rights for people of color, however when athletes play in the National Football League, I think that everyone in the stadium should put aside the US’s racial issues, and simply have a good time. A football game is an occasion for people to be united by their love for football, not to be divided by the color of their skin.
I do not pretend to understand the oppression African-American people in the US have experienced. While there is discrimination towards African-American people in our country, I think Kaepernick’s protest delivers the wrong message, because by taking a knee and stating that he will not stand for a country that “oppresses black people,” he is implying that our entire country oppresses black people. There is racism in the USA, and it needs to be fixed; however I feel like Kaepernick is ignoring the fact that the USA has made progress. Kaepernick’s comment that the USA is a country that “oppresses black people,” implies that the general population of the USA discriminates people of color, which is not true. Despite Kaepernick’s past experiences of being discriminated against, there are many more people in the USA who have helped Kaepernick achieve success rather than discriminate against him, or people of color.
Ever since Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem, his jersey sales have spiked. Kaepernick was benched last season, losing his starting position to fellow quarterback, Blaine Gabbert. Perhaps part of Kaepernick’s reason kneel during the anthem was to get attention; after all, some argue that any publicity is good publicity. While some people think Kaepernick’s protest is ridiculous, a lot of the African American community supports it, along with various other athletes who also are kneeling during the anthem, including white soccer player Megan Rapinoe, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, and fellow 49er Eric Reid.
Kaepernick has many supporters in the Bay Area and all over the country who are of many different races. He has faced obstacles in his life, but after all of the support that this country has given him, Kaepernick is biting the hand that feeds him by not standing during the national anthem.
(Sources: USA Today, ESPN, CNBC, Bleacher Report, US Magazine)