African American athletes have long been the darlings of American society. It didn’t start out that way, however.
Back around the early part of the last century the great Jack Johnson boxed his way to glory. He bucked the system and even flaunted his white lover. Jackie Robinson broke barriers in the field of baseball; Joe Louis cracked barriers in boxing, and Tiger Woods lit up the golf course to such an extent that he incurred the wrath of a number of white opponents. The great Michael Jordan led the charge in forging pathways in the field of basketball.
Though each aforementioned sportsman was able to bring attention to the Black community due to their pioneering victories, none of them came close to fighting for the cause of Black equality like Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
He is feeling the heat for his controversial 2016 decision not to stand for the pre-game playing of the American national anthem. Kaepernick, as a result of his actions, is now an unemployed free agent who has drawn criticism from both Black and white critics. But he has also drawn support from a wide sector of individuals who see the hypocrisy in the opposition to Kaepernick’s stance.
There is a huge push to encourage a boycott of the National Football League (NFL) if Kaepernick remains unemployed.
Rational people should understand the hesitancy of an African American, whose people have suffered through slavery, Jim Crow, and the current vicious attacks and murders of Blacks by the law enforcement establishment, as a situation that demands attention. According to Kaepernick’s website, his mission is to “fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism.” This is a commendable goal, and one that is rare coming from a Black athlete. Kaepernick is in one of the best positions, because of his celebrity, to bring attention to injustices in America.
On the other hand, some of those individuals who decry Kaepernick’s refusal to give reverence to the national anthem, are not standing in opposition to obvious racism coming from those who are emboldened because they feel that they have a friend in the White House. There are ridiculous examples of white supremacy that far and away outstrip anything that Colin Kaepernick has done, yet these critics are silent. In fact, Kaepernick has exhibited some of the highest principles of the American ethos by executing his right as a citizen to oppose injustice.
Historically, there have been underdogs like Kaepernick who have opposed giants by using their wit and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. The American system has long demonstrated a basic institutional racism, which was really flushed out into the open during the Barack Obama presidency. The highest representatives of American power, the House of Representatives and the Senate, made it a point to oppose everything that Obama did. Even today, President Trump remains obsessed, for some reason, with Obama, and attempts at every turn to blame him for every issue possible.
It’s hard to believe that many white people are not able to see behind this façade of American racism and its impact on the fate and fortunes of Black lives. Some allegedly rational people have found it necessary to craft an opposing slogan to “Black Lives Matter;” they prefer to say “All Lives Matter.” Of course, everyone knows that all lives do matter, but the problem is that this slogan was not offered BEFORE the spate of law enforcement murders of Black people. Why wasn’t there a cry of “All Lives Matter” before the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement?
This complacency, and head-in-the-sand behavior of too many white Americans, to ignore the “business as usual” aspect of oppression against Black people is exactly why a Black Lives Matter movement is needed, and why a high profile individual like Colin Kaepernick has stepped in to make a statement. He has put his career on the line, and at press time, is still unsigned.
Those who are calling for an NFL boycott are right on point; if the NFL refuses to change its position, it is reinforcing the very oppression that Kaepernick is opposing! A Luta Continua.