Colin Kaepernick: The BPR Take

Sigh. I wasn’t going get involved in the Colin Kaepernick debate; I haven’t posted much politics online for a while, and life is always exponentially better when I avoid it, so why ruin a good thing? But people are raging on and on about this and talking frankly racist shit and spreading frankly racist lies on social media and…well, I’ll just say that some of what I’m seeing explains perfectly Donald Trump’s viability as a presidential candidate. I’ll also say that everyone has a right to their opinion and I’m not going to waste time trying to change what anybody thinks. I just have to vent that I continue to be disgusted by some of the things I’m seeing, not just over Kaepernick specifically but in our politics at large.

But no, I’m not disgusted by Kaepernick himself. He has a right to his own views, and reading his direct and specific comments on the issue, I have to say I TOTALLY and COMPLETELY understand and RESPECT his position. He’s made it clear he’s not anti-American or anti-US military. He’s highly intelligent with a 4.0 GPA in college and scored impressively on the NFL’s Wonderlic test that measures intelligence. And he’s willing to engage his critics as shown by his invitation to former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer to discuss the issue after Boyer penned an open letter to him, and the conversation left Boyer impressed. And he was willing to change his protest in last night’s game from sitting down to kneeling as a show of respect for the military. In short, Kaepernick came to this decision after long and serious thought, not out of some narcissistic need for attention (ahem, Trump, cough cough).

And of course, the alt-right is out in full force, darkly accusing Kaepernick of converting to Islam for his Muslim Black Lives Matter girlfriend, blah blah blah…apparently, his is dating a Muslim woman, and it’s only natural for people to be influenced by their significant others, so if she’s caused him to think about issues he’s never considered before, fine. But to this point he hasn’t announced whether he’s converted or not, and unsubstantiated claims that he has are just more xenophobic bullshit meant to create and widen the gulf between the “Us” and the “Them”. But given the history of black athletes converting to Islam, they’ve nearly always made it public, so if he has why would he keep it a secret? It’s not like being a Muslim is illegal in this country. Yet.

And I don’t think he’s a hypocrite because he was raised by adoptive white parents. He said in his initial interview on the topic that he wasn’t protesting anything that’s happened to himself specifically, but at society at large. But that’s a bit too nuanced a point for people these days to comprehend, apparently. Good or Bad. Black or White. Us or Them. There’s no room for being in the middle, in between, or a shade of grey. Too much thought and empathy required for that.

There’s no one “proper” way to be an American. It takes all kinds. Colin Kaepernick’s view on the National Anthem/American flag may not be yours…but that doesn’t make him any less of an American. (By the way, if you’re going to be pissed off at Kaepernick, then you should be pissed off at baseball legend Jackie Robinson for expressing the same exact sentiment.) He’s just as much a “real” American as Nate Boyer. Or any of us. There’s a certain segment of the population that considers themselves “real” Americans (I’ll let you guess what color they are) to the exclusion of everyone else…guess what: we all are. Try taking the time to actually LISTEN to what he’s saying instead of getting all Facebook-Outraged because he’s not behaving in what you consider to be the “proper” manner expected out of an athlete, actor, or musician: Just play your sport/say your lines/sing your songs and shut up. Just entertain me. Don’t make me think about complicated issues.

Recommended links if you’re interested:

http://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-mix-of-racism-anti-islam-rhetoric-are-increasingly-toxic/

http://theundefeated.com/features/an-open-letter-from-american-military-veterans-in-support-of-colin-kaepernick/

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/09/nate-boyer-colin-kaepernick

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/08/31/492086321/my-father-stood-for-the-anthem-for-the-same-reason-that-colin-kaepernick-sits?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social

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