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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

We Have Lost Perspective of Kaepernick’s Protest


The current situation regarding Kaepernick and his role in the NFL is twofold: punishment by removing his platform, used to confront social justice issues, or justice by asking the NFL higher-ups to resist punishment.

We’re all acquainted with the turmoil Colin Kaepernick has caused when he protested the National Anthem in the name of all the social injustices committed against black and brown people. There was a huge uproar because many, predominantly white Republicans, viewed this as an attack on our nation’s anthem, armed forces, and patriotism.

We heard the numerous narratives contradicting Kaepernick’s stance, such as he has no right to protest the very thing that has given him the freedom to do so. However, the most echoed argument against his decision is that he is protesting a just cause, but in the wrong way and in the wrong setting.

Many NFL fans have expressed that this kind of behavior does not belong on a football field and NFL executives seem to agree. Measured by a number of sports analysts, Kaepernick has been deemed at least good enough of a quarterback to be a team’s back-up, but has not been given the chance because he has tremendous baggage.

However, NFL teams are not strangers to taking on controversial players. For example, Ezekial Elliott, Aaron Hernandez, Pacman Jones, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis, Chad “Ochocino” Johnson, Terrell Owens, and the list goes on.

Kaepernick should still be a quarterback in the NFL. But the recent developments in the anthem protests have nothing to do with him.

Last week, Trump decided to blast the NFL and team owners for not acting against players who decided to kneel or sit during the National Anthem ceremonies. Trump explained that “sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their country.” Trump further alienated the NFL when he said: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!” in regards to anthem protesters.

These comments sparked outrage within the NFL and throughout the nation. Countless players, coaches, and even owners protested the National Anthem by kneeling, locking arms, and, in the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, staying in the locker room during the song.

These sideline protests were a powerful statement, but the NFL, and even viewers, have lost perspective on the conversation Kaepernick wanted to incite when he knelt last year. As Kaepernick put it in an interview, he took a knee to “ultimately bring awareness and make people realize what is going on in this country.” He explained that “there are a lot of things that aren’t just, people aren’t being held accountable, and that’s something that needs to change.” Now, fast forward to last weekend. Did the anthem protest carry any resemblance to Kaepernick’s intended message? Clearly not.

This weekend, protesting the National Anthem became a way of taking a jab at the United States President by displaying solidarity among those involved in the NFL. The call for social justice drowned in the political noise created by our President and those that share his view.

There is no doubt that the National Anthem represents many things to millions of people, but does disagreeing with Kaepernick’s way of protesting give them a pass to ignore the problems he is trying to bring to light?

Even if you disagree with his kneeling and remarks, can you agree that this nation has a problem? It goes beyond racial profiling and injustices against people of color. How can the administration of justice be so imbalanced that two men who committed the same crime receive different sentences: one of six months and the other of 15 years? Laws may vary by states, but a 14-year difference between sentences for an identical crime is egregious. Call one man privileged or worthy with great lawyers and the other disadvantaged, but this is the very injustice that Kaepernick wanted the country to talk about. Instead, the discussions were about hurt feelings by people who likely sit on their couches while the anthem plays. There is nothing wrong with remaining seated in the comfort of your home while the anthem is sung, but people should dial back on the hypocrisy when they judge a guy like Kaepernick.

This passionate and honest way of protesting is so entrenched in political discourse that it is only viewed as a way to settle a Twitter fight with the U.S. President. All the powerful NFL owners decided to look the other way when Kaepernick began his demonstrations, but as soon as Trump mentioned them, they rallied and, all of a sudden, stood tall in solidarity among their NFL “brothers.”

I suppose protesting the National Anthem was alright in their opinion all along, just as long as it is done for closed-minded and egotistical reasons.