I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on this Colin Kaepernick controversy the last couple of days. I’m clearly not as talented of a writer as St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Jose de Jesus Ortiz, who wrote a solid article on the topic today, but I still feel like saying my peace. I hoped a tweet last night would satisfy my need to be heard, but 140 characters wasn’t enough apparently. So I’m using this blog space as an outlet to vent.
As I tweeted last night, freedom grants the right to protest. Kaepernick sat quietly during the national anthem in a peaceful protest prior to a preseason game. Despite his message of racism and inequality, people seem more concerned with the way in which he protested. He wasn’t aggressive or hostile about it. It wasn’t until he was asked about it later that he became public enemy #1. Don’t get me wrong, I think his actions were disrespectful. But I respect the fact that he has the same right as every American to protest. Navy veteran, Jim Wright, also posted a well written essay on Facebook about respect.
You don’t have to agree with what Kaepernick said or did, but I find the stream of insults and hatred disheartening. The only relevance of him being a professional football player making millions of dollars has is that the things he says and does gets more attention that the average citizen. He is a taxpayer with an opinion just like anyone else. As Ortiz points out, this country is not perfect and never has been. There is nothing wrong with pointing out those faults and having peaceful conversations about how we can improve as a country. We should be encouraging people to speak out in meaningful ways. Hopefully in a more prudent way than Kaepernick did, but the freedom that so many have fought and died for allows any of us to remain seated when everyone else is standing.