Colin Kaepernick has faced backlash and exile from many Americans since his decision to forego standing for the national anthem throughout the 49ers 2016 season.
His reasoning was logical. With the past 10 years epitomizing the racial disparity in our justice system, Kaepernick stated that he did not feel it was fair to recognize a country that oppressed and killed its people of color, referring to the reports of police brutality that have been televised throughout the nation.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
At the beginning of the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick made the decision to kneel on September 1st, in order to show respect for our military after a conversation with U.S. Veteran and former NFL player Nate Boyer affected him. Kaepernick even managed to influence fellow teammate Eric Reid to kneel with him.
Kaepernick has since been locked out of the NFL, regarded as unpatriotic, and disparaged by fellow Americans who consider him a traitor to his country. NFL owners have denied taking him on their teams, writing off his actions as an embarrassment for their image.
Kaepernick’s actions have stirred a much larger reaction from America. Kaepernick’s refusal to stand wasn’t a temporary action, but the start to a revolution.
Kaepernick’s declaration has caused a rift in our political divide. On the one hand, we have liberals such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters showing their support, regarding Kaepernick as a hero.
“I think he has absolutely sacrificed an awful lot for what he believes in. And people with courage to do what they think is right — despite the consequences — must be respected and honored.”
On the other hand, we have conservatives such as former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry referring to GQ’s award as a “joke” and President Donald Trump unleashing personal attacks on both Kaepernick and the NFL, suggesting that NFL owners fire any players that do not stand for the anthem.
JJ Watt raised $37 million for Hurricane Harvey victims. 37 MILLION! But Kaepernick refused to stand for our national anthem (a year ago) and is Citizen of the Year. Right…
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) November 13, 2017
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Due to the president’s comments and Kaepernick’s effect, this prompted more than 200 players to kneel during the national anthem as a sign of a peaceful protest.
Kaepernick’s efforts to push forward his movement thereafter have not gone unrecognized.
Since taking a stand, Kaepernick has founded and funded Know Your Rights Camp, aimed at educating and empowering kids to understand and interact with law enforcement and be cognizant of their rights as American citizens.
Colin Kaepernick will not be silenced. He’s been vilified by millions and locked out of the NFL—all because he took a knee to protest police brutality. But Kaepernick’s determined stand puts him in rare company in sports history: Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson—athletes who risked everything to make a difference. (📸@martinschoeller) #GQMOTY #colinkaepernick
The camp teachings center around the ten following doctrines:
1. You have the right to be free.
2. You have the right to be healthy.
3. You have the right to be brilliant.
4. You have the right to be safe.
5. You have the right be loved.
6. You have the right to be courageous.
7. You have the right to be alive.
8. You have the right to be trusted.
9. You have the right to be educated.
10. You have the right to know your rights.
On the camp’s website, there are resources available for anyone wanting to learn more of the racial injustice in America.
For example, an essay on why Black men are cast as criminals in America goes in depth with statical analysis and educational research.
“According to the Justice Department, a whopping 45 percent of rape exoneration cases involve the misidentification of Black men by white women despite the fact that less than 10 percent of reported rapes of white women are committed by black men. In fact, according to a 2004 meta-analysis in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology the concepts of ‘black’ and ‘crime’ were generally interchangeable with one another in terms of how subjects in the study visually perceived black people.”
Kaepernick’s absence from the NFL opened up doors for more philanthropy. Since his hiatus from sports, Kaepernick has raised funds for over 24 organizations, donating $700K from his $1 million earnings to various organizations through his Million Dollar Pledge promise.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) March 17, 2017
Though rumors have spread that Kaepernick’s return to the NFL would include his standing for the national anthem, he’s made sure to deny these claims through Twitter.
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
Winston S. Churchill
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) October 8, 2017
Kaepernick’s decision to kneel has become a symbol of solidarity. The former Super Bowl quarterback continues to make a statement with every team’s denial, every expression of hate, and every refutation of his peaceful protest.
There’s no doubt that Colin Kaepernick will continue to do great things. He has remained poised throughout the events over the past year and stuck by his beliefs, encouraging those who are considering kneeling to do so.
GQ could not have picked a better candidate for their person of the year. Kaepernick is truly affecting change in this country and beyond.