By Aaliyah Roulhac
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ Sept. 21 – Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers, has been the center of a media frenzy since mid-August; taking many by surprise by sitting during a rendition of the national anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
In an exclusive with the NFL media team, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.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.”
Kaepernick was referring to the thousands of people of color who have been persecuted by law enforcement throughout the country in recent years, majority of whom were killed unjustly and whose murderers were not convicted (many were not even indicted).
According to The Guardian, 1,134 young black males alone were killed by law enforcement at the conclusion of 2015. As far as this year goes, at least 194 black citizens have been killed across the nation, as reported by the Huffington Post.
To many, Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem was more than justified in light of the tragic blows to the African American community and his act of “protest” was applauded by a worldwide audience.
On the flip side, Kaepernick received a massive amount of criticism by fellow athletes, sports fans, celebrities and even politicians for being what they deemed “unpatriotic” and “un-American”.
Critics tried to discredit the validity of the NFL player’s protest with questions of his background (him being raised by white, adopted parents) and also the timing of his actions.
Famous athlete Shaquille Oneal, said in an interview with Fox & Friends, “My question is, how come you didn’t do it last year? Or how come you didn’t do it when you first entered the NFL?”
It goes without saying that the timing of Kaepernick’s protest is not what is important, but instead the reasoning for his protest is what truly matters.
What is interesting to point out however, is just how quiet all the critics of Kaepernick have become, in light of the fatal shootings of Terrence Crutcher of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Keith Lamont Scott of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Both men have been gunned down by police because they were believed to have firearms in their possession when approached by law enforcement in each circumstance.
Crutcher’s car stalled in the middle of the road in Tulsa when police arrived and instead of providing assistance, they opened fire.
Scott was in his car, picking up his son from school and believed to be reading, when the altercation between himself and law enforcement began, after they were originally in pursuit of a completely different person.
In both of these cases, two black men unjustly lost their lives at the hands of those very people who were sworn in to protect and serve them. Families, friends and communities are now missing pieces that once made them whole.
Since Colin Kaepernick began his protest, at least 16 black citizens have lost their lives due to police brutality.
When the literal blood of African Americans is being shed on the streets of the nation and no one is being held accountable for it, how are we supposed to feel proud?
How can black citizens be considered un-patriotic for not wanting to sing or stand during an anthem that was written by a slave owner, who did not see America as their home?
How can anyone criticize a group of people for not expressing their love for a country that has shown in many ways, for hundreds of years that is does not love them?
Before anyone dares to further criticize Colin Kaepernick, or anyone one else for that matter, who decides to sit or kneel during the national anthem- they better have a criticism for the system of law enforcement that’s seemingly taking more lives than it is saving.
By: Aaliyah Roulhac