Much has been made about Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the National Anthem, and he has taken quite a bit of heat for it. People see his action as disrespectful, counterproductive, and others see it as a chance for a second-string quarterback to get back into the limelight.
They aren’t wrong. What Kaepernick chose to do was incredibly disrespectful, and it was New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees that said it best:
“The great thing about this country is that we have the freedoms that allow you to speak out openly about any issue. So I’m not commenting on the issue itself because any person has the right to speak out on any issue they want. That’s the great thing about being an American. But the American flag is what represents those freedoms. It represents the very freedom that Colin Kaepernick gets the opportunity to exercise by speaking out his opinion in a peaceful manner about that issue. …
“Like, it’s an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.”
In the midst of all the criticism, something hit me. I spent plenty of time voicing my opposition, but I refused to listen to the substance behind his reasoning. You see, I don’t believe Kaepernick was just talking out of his butt to gain national attention, I believe he sees a problem that needs to be addressed. In fact, in all of the opposition I saw, the vast majority agreed that his methodology was wrong, but his reason was not.
Police brutality exists, although not nearly to the degree that people like Kaepernick may believe. There are officers placed on paid leave after killing a young black man, and I think we can all agree that that is wrong (regardless of the race or gender of the deceased). There is this sense in the black community that police can not be trusted, there is a feeling that the criminal justice system is corrupt, and no amount of screaming “no it’s not” will ever change the way they see things.
Colin Kaepernick should stand up for the National Anthem, he should stand for the things that make this country great, but we should also stand for the things that need our attention. We should stand up against the small minority of corrupt police officers that do a disservice to the badge they represent, we should stand up for anyone killed on either side because any loss of human life should be devastating.
This is not an issue that can be solved by passive-aggressively tweeting about it (something even I need to recognize), but it is an issue that we need to approach with compassion, understanding, and truth. While the racial divide in this country is growing ever larger, we have an incredible opportunity to be the voices that help bring everyone back together. One Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.