On August 26, 2016 Colin Kaepernick sat during a preseason game. Afterwards he 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.”
Thus Colin himself made it about the flag and the anthem as well as about racial injustice. So people can disagree about whether it is right to include the flag and anthem or not. But for those saying it is not about the flag and anthem you need to revisit Colin’s words out of his own mouth and stick to his truth.
They are right to protest against injustices in America. But they are wrong in their method/timing of doing so during the anthem. Also, let us see some real sacrifice. Let us see them use their own time and other resources.
Also let them join Rev. Jasper Williams in protesting the wrongs in the black culture. Let them be balanced. For Rev. Williams comments see here
Personally, I think protesting during the National Anthem is unnecessary and not the better way. As the scripture teaches: A thing may be lawful for me to do; yet, that does not mean it is expedient or best for me to do. In my view, protesting in this way is not best. Given Colin’s and the other NFL players power and prominence in society they could choose a more unifying rather than unnecessary divisive protest method/time that would be more effective in meeting his/their goals.
But, it was initially Colin Kaepernick and others constitutional right to choose to do so since the NFL seemingly did not at the time forbid it as their employer. For me it would have been better and still would be better if they adhered to the standard expectation during the National Anthem. But, again it is their constitutional right as a general matter.
Since the initial protest the NFL has come out with a policy change as announced on May 23, 2018. This policy change now requires NFL players to stand for the National Anthem if they are on the field at the time of the Anthem. For those who desire not to stand they may remain in the locker room or at some other location off the field until the Anthem has been played. However, in July 2018 the NFL and NFL Players Associations announced a joint agreement to suspend implementation of the May 23rd policy.
As the scripture says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). So my hope is that Colin’s action and the subsequent actions of President Trump, NFL Owners/Players, and others will lead to long term improvements in social/racial justice in our nation to move us to a more perfect union.
Now the issue has become President Trump and the National Anthem rather than the injustice issues Colin intended to raise. Most NFL Owners/Players are kneeling/acting to protest Trump. Let them stand for Anthem and let the NFL Management, Owners, and Players take more productive actions in support of Colin’s and the nation’s issues of justice.
These are complex injustice issues that require a lot of initiative, faith, courage, integrity, and resources to resolve or at least improve. Injustice issues of this day are far more complex than injustice elements of 1950s/1960s such as separate water fountains, separate bathrooms, and hand-me-down books. Such injustice elements were visibly obvious and undeniable.
We as a nation have come a long ways in moving the nation forward to a more perfect union in terms of equity and justice for all people regardless of race. Yet, we have more work to do. Given the spiritual/moral and socio-economic state of our society, some form of protest is yet needed.
In my personal opinion it would be better if the NFL (management, owners, and players as a unit) at the very least joined together in massive street protests off the work clock. Yet, it would be even better if the NFL joined together in a media campaign to highlight injustices (legal, social, racial, economic, etc.) and solutions. It would be even better than that if the NFL visibly funded and promoted those solutions in every city and county perhaps starting with but not solely in the major cities. It would be even better if this happened with mutual agreement through joint initiatives (including funding) with the Executive Branch (President Trump and Cabinet), Congress (House and Senate), and the US Supreme Court, and related entities at all levels of government, Federal, State, and Local.
One thing that concerns me that as of yet I have heard of any mass protests by the NFL Players during the off-season. So I am wondering if their kneeling is nothing more than a “photo op”.
Where Do We Go From Here
The key is whether there will be more deliberate action on the part of the President, NFL Management, Owners and Players, and others that improves matters for all Americans in general and Black Americans in particular.
It is now time or at least extremely close to time for everyone to go back standing according to convention during the National Anthem. Those protesting by kneeling and those counter-protesting kneeling should come together to more deliberately put forth plans and actions with timelines to resolve the issues Colin intended to bring attention and issues of injustice more generally.
For a more extensive discussion see my article here.