Sunday, September 11, 2016
Colin Kaepernick – National Anthem Controversy
By Carol Ealey
Now that the regular football season starts on Sunday the Colin Kaepernick flag controversy has created a real dialogue about what the flag represents and racial injustice in America. When I heard that Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States, my first reaction was what is he thinking? Why risk your career especially since his tenure on the team was still in question at that time.
Now three weeks into the controversy, I have learned a lot about the history of the flag and I have more respect for Kaepernick. He’s not just a stupid jock but someone who feels deeply about this country and the mistreatment of minorities and the unjustified killings of African Americans by the police.
Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," "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."
By taking a stand for civil rights, Kaepernick, 28, joins other athletes, like the NBA's Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and several WNBA players in using their platform and status to raise awareness to issues affecting minorities in the U.S.
Kaepernick has received support from President Obama, Steph Curry, Megan Rapinoe USWNT soccer star, and this Sunday the Seattle Seahawks are expected to show their support for Kaepernick by locking arms when the national anthem is played.
However, one of the best expressions of support came from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who wrote in The Washington Post:
What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem, but that nearly 50 years after [Muhammad] Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.
But many others have criticized Kaepernick, including the Santa Clara, CA, police union, which has threatened to boycott 49ers games. Kaepernick has been booed and heckled at recent games by fans that see his behavior as disrespectful and inappropriate.
What I have learned about the national anthem is that “The Star Spangled Banner” contains racist language, most notably in its third stanza, which is seldom sung today. (Most performances stop after the first stanza.) The third section states: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave …”
The line is believed to refer to black slaves who were promised freedom if they fought on the side of the British during the War of 1812. The song “casts aspersions on black people. It does a disservice to black people today,” said Gerald Horne, chair of history and African-American studies at the University of Houston. He said performing the anthem today is the equivalent of saying that “things should never change and remain frozen in aspic. … It’s a war-mongering song that’s totally inappropriate for 2016 and people need to get over it.”
Kaepernick started this dialogue regarding social injustice and I hope it continues, however, my fear is that if Kaepernick does not play well and is ultimately released by the 49ers the issue will fade. I hope Kaepernick has a great season and wins the starting quarterback position with the 49ers so that he can continue the fight.