By H. Jacob Sandigo
Much heat has fallen on Colin Kaepernick as of late, in reaction to his refusal to stand for the national anthem. The gesture has sent many people into an outrage, condemning Kap as un-American, anti-police, anti-veteran, and anti-white. He's even received death threats for his choice to kneel, which is the most ‘un-American’ thing us as people could do. He does have the right to protest after all.
Coming from a family with military background, I too crucified Kap at first, but after watching an extended post-game interview of his, I eventually ate my words. Foolishly, I allowed the media to persuade my view and believed Kap was being disrespectful, and insulting those who served in the military. But after looking into the matter further I began to understand his message. Kap’s reasoning for not standing is that this country is based off "land of the free home of the brave" and that all "are created equal," and right now people of color are not treated with those same ideals.
I understand his reasoning. If the flag is a symbol of our land and if it's not being fully symbolic to its nature, then why should we have to stand for it? He also brought awareness to the police brutality that continues to plague our nation, with people of color appearing to be the agenda, targeted and given the death sentence. Never given the chance of due process, while people who have shot up schools or churches are handcuffed without much struggle and given their day in court.
Kap covered all areas, stating that not all police are bad, but that there needs to be more education and training for the people who are supposed to be be serving and protecting our communities. The choice to grow an Afro was a nice touch as well. In the '60s and '70s the "black is beautiful" movement, a byproduct of the Civil Rights movement, was focused around black beauty and aesthetic, seeing the return of more ‘natural’ hair. The Afro is symbolic of Black Pride and by growing one Kap not only is embracing his culture, but also taking a stance on his beliefs.
Kap also clearly stated that he wasn't trying to offend or disrespect veterans, and that he's had friends and family who have served. Many veterans have spoken up to express their distaste of Kap's actions, making protest videos and telling him to leave the country if he's so unhappy. I get the outrage, the flag is a sensitive subject, but this event has also brought to light some negative aspects of the flag and the anthem, that most might not have been aware of.
When both were created, black people weren't even considered fully human by law, and there is the controversial verse about slavery that was taken out as well. I didn't see Kap's kneeling as a F-you to vets, but rather just a way to bring attention to a cause. He used his platform, football, as a way to speak his message in a way that would allow thousands of people to hear him. Who is anyone to judge another and say they are against vets, when our society continues to ignore all the vets who are homeless or mentally ill living on the streets.
What do we as a collective do for vets? Why is that a majority of our vets are struggling just to get by? From what I've observed from personal experiences, the health care and benefits are subpar, I know this isn't the case for every vet but it's what I've witnessed first hand. My grandfather served in the Army for a majority of his life, now that he's retired he can’t do what must retirees enjoy, such as travel around the world, or spend the day doing leisurely activities.
He still struggles to pay his mortgage off, and has to deal with financial setbacks, living a very simple life. Vets should be set once they are done with service, they put their lives on the line and protect our nation, without them I wouldn't be able to write this article. Not all were opposed to Kap's protest, some vets took to twitter to show support, saying how they fought for this country to preserve freedom and equality for all, not just some.
Overall, I applaud Kap. He is speaking up for people of color and bringing awareness to a cause that needs action and is provoking thoughts and conversations between people, allowing everyone to see different perspectives and ways of life.
People are letting the media influence their opinion of Kap as being some punk or thug who has no respect for this country or vets, when that couldn't be further for the truth. Some tabloids have ran with the story that he is blaming white people for all our problems or that he hates white people, making him out to be hypocritical considering he comes from a white family, gets paid by white people, and has white fans.
I extensively watched that post game video clip numerous times, I never once even heard him say the word 'white,' instead he said "people" need to change, which I took as meaning all people, every race, gender, can grow and make changes to improve all our qualities of life.
This is why other writers, actors, musicians, and politicians need to use their outlets, to speak up for us, and bring further awareness to generate change in society. To reach an end goal, we must all stand together as a Nation, learn to understand one and another, experience each other's cultures, and remember that we are all connected, we are all human beings who inhabit this earth. As one we can be stronger than any adversity that will come our way.
Bay Area, let's stop being wishy-washy fans, and give Kap a break, he did get us to the playoffs (for the first time since the early 2000s) and a led us to a Super Bowl, (for the first time since 1995).
I'd love to hear any feedback or opinions on this article, if there's any topics you believe I should cover ask me a question on twitter, H. Jacob Sandigo @NotDrizzyDrake . My weekly podcast Migo_Talks on soundcloud is focused on hip hop and the Bay Area so don't forget to tune into that as well. Thank you.
Peace, and positivity.