On August 26, 2016, prior to a preseason game, Colin Kaepernick sat by his lonesome on the bench as the national anthem played. After the game, in an interview with Steve Wyche of NFL media, Kaepernick stated: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… There are bodies in the street and people getting paid to leave and getting away with murder.” Six days later, Kaepernick met with Army veteran Nate Boyer, who was inquisitive about Kaepernick’s reasons for sitting during the national anthem. After conversing with Kaepernick, Boyer suggested that Kaepernick kneel rather than sit. “I suggested kneeling, because people kneel to pray; we’ll kneel in front of a fallen brother’s grave” said Boyer.
Players around the league imitated Kaepernick’s actions in support of his protest against systematic racism and to bring light to police brutality. What police brutality you may ask? In 2017, 1,147 individuals were killed at the hands of the police. Officers were charged in only 13 of these cases. In 640 of those killings, officers were responding to suspected non-violent crimes. Of those 1,147 people killed, 25% were Black. In 2015, 30% of Black victims were unarmed when they were killed by police. As of August 2018, there have been 723 people shot and killed by police.
There is the “misconception” that Kaepernick’s protest is disrespectful to the military. However, Kaepernick explicitly stated that his protest was against police brutality. Former Army Ranger, Rory Fanning, refused to stand during the national anthem at Wrigley Field in support of Kaepernick. When asked why he chose to sit in support of Kaepernick, Fanning stated: “Because he’s right. We know there’s no accountability for police when they murder African Americans at unprecedented rates.” In addition, our service men and women fight for our right to protest.
I would like to end this article by saying that I can be a hunter and still be friends with a vegan; I can be a Liberal and still have lunch with a Conservative; I can protest the national anthem and still support the military; I can wear Nike and still befriend someone who burnt their Nike shoes two weeks ago. We can get along despite our differences. We all have different opinions on this matter but it shouldn’t separate us as a college nor as a country.