Ok Kaepernick, What's Your Next Move?

August 29, 2016

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard a little something about Colin Kaepernick... you know, the NFL player who refused to stand for National Anthem during two pre-season games, and plans to do so moving forward. He is doing this to give "a voice" to those who do not have one. He's given no time line, no untils... nothing more than some words and an action... well a lack of action rather. With all controversial issues, it is first and foremost, important to get the facts down... before you generate a lofty opinion, which we all can't wait to do when it refers to the biggies like God, Politics and Football. 

Facts: He is an NFL Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He was a 2nd round draft pick in 2011.

He was born to a young woman who was unable to care for him and an African American man who was out of the picture before he was born. His birth mother decided to put him up for adoption. He was adopted by a white couple at a very young age and became part of their family along with their biological son and daughter. 

He excelled in sports from a young age in Football and Baseball. He was a 4.0 student at a good school and continued on to play football at the University of Nevada, where he was a MLB 43rd round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs (which he turned down) in 2009, and ultimately a 2nd round NFL draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers. 

What he has to say: "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...This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he said. "I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."

OK, so another important thing to consider is what he chose as his avenue to "give a voice" to those who do not have a voice- The National Anthem. In case you weren't 100% sure what the song's true intention is... here's the deal on that. Also called the "Star Spangled Banner", it originated from a poem called  "Defense of Fort M'Henry" written in 1814. Francis Scott Key was inspired to write this iconic poem after seeing the Star-Spangled Banner (American Flag) flying after the Battle of Fort McHenry. A battle in which British Ships pummeled Fort McHenry in the Baltimore Harbor, the large American Flag still flying triumphantly for an American Victory. 

The National Anthem represents not only an American Victory but also, freedom and tolerance.

Thoughts: It is truly one of the most prized American possessions to have freedom of speech. Many have spent their lives flighting for such an intangible item. Many have died. Speech is something that allows us to be unique and share our ideas and passions with one another. To have the freedom to speak without much fear is something that many other parts of the world will never comprehend. The idea that we would not have that option is incomprehensible to most of us, as Americans. What Colin Kaepernick did was completely and utterly... American. He used his freedom to share his thoughts on a very controversial issue in our country. Not a new or exciting issue... an old one. One that we're not proud of... one that we're still not ready to admit exists some days. But what do his actions mean? Does he really understand what he's done?

So, now he has the floor. He has our full attention. What's his next move? If it is just to continue to sit during the National Anthem... then maybe I'm missing the part where he actually uses his celebrity status for good. Maybe I'm missing the part where he puts his money where his mouth is. I'd like to see more leading by example and less talking about what's wrong with society. I'd like to hear less about the problem and more about the solution. You don't have to have the answer, just an idea... a hopeful direction. We're all just waiting on the edge of our seats, for a way to change... there's a big word "change". I want to see just one person talking about how they know we'll get through this with grace and dignity, together. Change is a very powerful tool - a tool that I fear today's youth don't have the patience for... 

What I would like to hear from him, is how he expects his words to speak into existence, some change. How does he see this panning out? He says he is willing to sacrifice his football career... is that what he expects to happen? Perhaps he's focusing on the wrong outcome... the one that circles around him, and not society. So he plays football... or doesn't... how does that affect any of us? 

Ok, Kaepernick... you're move. Be a role model for the thousands of young impressionable minds that hang on your every word and set an example that doesn't end with sitting down. Standing up boldly for the things you believe in is a great first step, now it's time to get running!