We support you, Kaepernick

Recent protests against police brutality and inequality by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have caused controversy among the U.S. population.

Kaepernick began sitting during the national anthem on Aug. 14. At the time, his protest went unnoticed and didn’t gain much support. It wasn’t until Aug. 26 that his protests began to gain attention when the media began to report on Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem.

As the athlete explained, “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand.”

Throughout the duration of the football season, Kaepernick has continued to kneel and sit during the national anthem, with considerable discussion pro and con about his decision and its effect.

Supporters of Kaepernick say his actions are justified because of the injustices in the judicial system for blacks and minorities. Many people are proud that someone in a prominent position is using his power to stand up for a real issue.

People critical of Kaepernick’s actions use military pride and patriotism as reasons Kaepernick should stand. The main argument has been that the citizens in the military go out and put their lives on the line for the American people, so the least we can do as Americans is stand and salute them when it comes to standing for the anthem and the pledge of allegiance.

Kaepernick responded, “I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody.”

The football player isn’t the first athlete to put his reputation and career on the line. In 1967, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army because of his. He was sentenced to five years in prison and was ordered to pay $10,000 in fines for draft evasion. His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971.

A year later, another controversy erupted when Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists on the medal podium at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City during the playing of the national anthem.

After the protests, hip-hop rapper J. Cole and R&B singer Trey Songz were seen wearing Kaepernick’s jerseys. Despite criticism, Kaepernick’s jersey became the No. 1 selling jersey in the NFL. Kaepernick said he will use the money earned to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

President Barack Obama has said it is Kaepernick’s constitutional right to bring light to racial injustices.

Now other professional athletes, as well as high school and college players, have begun kneeling or taking a knee during the anthem. Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks took a seat Sept. 1.  Soccer player Megan Rapinoe took a knee at a game.

So did players on the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 11, prompting even more criticism because it was the 15th anniversary of the 911 bombing of the twin towers in New York.

The Courtbouillon staff supports Kaepernick’s decision. We agree with Advocate columnist Ed Pratt, who said in his Sept. 10 column: “We need those patriots to protest Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and others creating laws to limit the voting rights of African-Americans and those of color…Kaepernick is protesting a clear and present danger that includes repeated deadly confrontations with police.”

We salute you, Colin Kaepernick, for your bravery. Let’s hope the discussion turns to the real issues that you’re trying to highlight.

(Online editor Rolanda Joubert wrote this editorial on behalf of the staff.)