Colin Kaepernick isn’t afraid to stand up (or sit down) for his beliefs.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks decision to sit down during the U.S. national anthem before Friday’s preseason game against the Packers is causing quite a stir. According to the NFL, Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem for all three preseason games.
Kaepernick plans to sit during the national anthem for as long as he feels appropriate, to protest police brutality and unjust treatment of the black community in the United States.
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said in a press conference following the game. “To me this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
Kaepernick’s Twitter and Instagram accounts are filled with passionate civil rights messages, making it clear that the quarterback has no intention of silencing his voice on unjust killings and authorities not being held accountable for their actions.
“I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances,” he said.
The quarterback recalled a negative experience he had with police while attending college in Nevada in which police were called “because we were the only black people in that neighborhood.” Kaepernick explained that as he, his teammates and his roommates were moving their belongings, officers entered without knocking and drew their guns.
Reaction to Kaepernick’s silent protest
The bold action has Kaepernick’s fans, teammates, opponents, and coach talking, and there are a great deal of mixed feelings surrounding the protest. Many feel that despite Kaepernick’s positive intentions, the way in which he is going about communicating his message is wrong.
According to the Associated Press, several of Kaepernick’s teammates agree with his message but do not approve of the method in which he has chosen to display his beliefs. Many people said they believed it was disrespectful to the men and women who have served in the U.S. military.
Colin Kaepernick, you are an american. Sitting during the national anthem is shameful and I am hence dropping you from my fantasy team.
Andy Taylor (@AWTaylor19) August 29, 2016
Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem is disrespectful and a slap in the face to our military members.
Blake McKay (@BlakeMcKay15) August 29, 2016
Wideout Torrey Smith said he agrees with what Kaepernick did, but not the way he did it. “That’s not for me. He has that right. Soldiers have died for his right to do exactly what he did … I know he’s taken a lot of heat for it. He understands that when you do something like that it does offend a lot of people,” Smith said.
Despite the decision sparking some serious backlash, Kaepernick feels he “did what’s right” and has garnered a fair amount of supporters, including from his coach Chip Kelly.
The coach said he believed this peaceful protest is one of Kaepernick’s rights as a citizen. “We recognize his right as an individual to choose to participate or not participate in the national anthem,” Kelly told reporters on Saturday.
49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman also backed his teammate’s right to make his own decision. “Every guy on this team is entitled to their opinion. We’re all grown men,” he said.
SO let me get this straight.. Colin Kaepernick should leave the country for exercising his first amendment but the racist backlash is ok?!?
Ablum (@Bluuuumm) August 29, 2016
Colin Kaepernick you do what you have to brutha! We need more black athletes taking a stand as well.
(@IamKanyeezy) August 29, 2016
Consequences for Kaepernick
Kaepernick is well aware that his actions will likely come with consequences, but he’s ready to deal with them head on. “I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this. There’s a lot of people that don’t want to have this conversation,” he said. “They’re scared they might lose their job. Or they might not get the endorsements. They might not to be treated the same way.”
Though Kaepernick has yet to hear from the NFL regarding his actions, San Franscisco could potentially cut him from the team for this behavior. “At this point, I’ve been blessed to be able to get this far and have the privilege of being able to be in the NFL, making the kind of money I make and enjoy luxuries like that. I can’t look in the mirror and see people dying on the street that should have the same opportunities that I’ve had,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.