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Aug-29-2016 21:22printcomments

Kudos to Colin Kaepernick

Don't professional athletes have a greater responsibility than just to themselves?

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick

(SAN FRANCISCO) - On August 26, before the preseason football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem.

He explained his action later saying he didn’t want to “show pride” in a country that “oppresses black people and people of color,” citing a number of shootings of black people by white police officers. Kaepernick is half black.

In a classic case of shooting the messenger, rather than dealing with the issue of racism in America, Kaepernick is being lambasted for his protest.

Kaepernick’s protest is reminiscent of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two black-American sprinters standing on the medal podium with heads bowed and fists raised at the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968. Their protest was not only one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history but was also a milestone in America’s civil rights movement.

Our national anthem — “The Star Spangled Banner” — is sung before every NFL football game. It represents our country, its people and values.

Kaepernick’s protest during its rendition is his expression of disillusionment with a nation that is long on promises to end institutional racism, but ever-painfully short on delivery.

Remember Golden State Warrior star Stephan Curry, who grew up in North Carolina while his dad played for the North Carolina Hornets, and was criticized for not speaking out against that state’s controversial anti-LBGT law when the NBA and the state’s basketball team had condemned the law? There was little criticism of Curry for not speaking out.

Being political or speaking out can hurt your brand, cost you money, and vilify you in the eyes of the public. But don’t professional athletes have a greater responsibility than just to themselves?

Because of their popularity and fame, today’s athletes have a platform to start and amplify conversations about needed change. Kaepernick says he will continue his protest – will other professional athletes join the conversation?

Regardless, kudos to Kaepernick for his courage and continuing the conversation about ending racism in America.

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