How People of Color Can Protest “The Right Way” for White America



For almost two years I’ve listened to the same argument from folks, regarding Colin Kaepernick and other NFL athletes sitting during the National Anthem, as a way of bringing racial injustices to the public consciousness.

“Well, I’m all for protesting—I just don’t think they’re doing it the right way.”

“It’s not that I’m against speaking out. I’m fine with that. I just don’t like the way they did it.”

“There’s a better way to do things like this.”

So, a nonviolent gesture, when not on the field of play, to garner the attention of millions of people, and then following that up with a fairly clear verbal explanation of the whys of his protest and a million dollar donation to the work of reconciliation—isn’t the right way?

These people don’t mean that. They’re lying, whether they know it or not.

They’re not all for protesting, at least not for someone who looks like Kaepernick looks. 

This is the arrogant heart of privilege: being the beneficiaries of systematic injustice, and then wanting to make the rules for the marginalized in how they should speak into that injustice. 

To these people who claim to offended, there are only two ways that Colin Kaepernick or any other person of color for that matter, can protest the “right way”shut up or be white.

This is the very limited menu we have for him and the black community when desiring change or equality or respect: wait for us to give it to you.

That’s not how America is supposed to work. Black voices matter.

And that’s the saddest takeaway from all this for me: the way white people so effortlessly illustrated exactly what Kaepernick was protesting. He was trying to give a voice to people who don’t have one in the conversation, and he was badgered relentlessly by white people who tried to tone-police him into silence.

The the more white Americans beat their breasts and tore their garments and broadcast their outrage at a civil, nonviolent expression of resistance by a man of color, the more they reminded us just why the conversation on race in America is so divisive and painful: because when the house is stacked for you, you don’t really care to have the odds changed.

Colin Kaepernick is nether silent nor white, and the way he protested was the right way because it was his way.

Now, we in white America need to respond the right way, to him and those who he speaks for: we need to sit down and listen.





153 thoughts on “How People of Color Can Protest “The Right Way” for White America

  1. I objected to his protesting after putting on a team uniform. As a member of a team, do what the team is doing. As a private citizen, protest and voice and donate!

    • Please pay attention to the real issue. Please don’t toss in a red herring of attire. Pay attention to what he said, to the problem he drew attention to. ***That*** is far more important that what he was wearing.

      • His protest is based on a lie. His comments are not true and can be verified by doing some research. White kids are more apt to be shot by police than black kids, by a 9 to 2 ratio. Blacks commit half of all murders in the US, yet account for 1/4 of all police shootings. Whites account for less than half and account for 1/2 of all police shootings. Studies show that cops are more likely to shoot a white man than a black man Kaepernick’s claims are false.

        • You didn’t adjust your analysis according to the relative population.

          According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

          As far as unarmed citizens:
          U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.

    • Whether he was in uniform or not, y’all would have still found a problem with him and what he is saying. Please dont pretend for one minute thst it would’ve made any difference.

      • Disrespecting a flag that has led men and women into battle and our national anthem is NOT the way to have people listen to your protest. Most people are outraged because those 2 symbols of our country also symbolize the wars we have fought in order to have the freedoms to protest. they represent the injured, the dead and those still keeping watch. I’m sick to death of my flag being trampled on. Find a different approach and forum.

        • Thank you for providing a PERFECT example of the kind of white person who misses EVERY point so spectacularly. You couldn’t have gotten everything more wrong if you’d tried.

          • And thank you for the perfect example of intolerance. It’s ok for Kaepernick to protest and speak it for the voiceless. But it’s not ok for people who don’t like the way he protested. Of course too then compound It by making it racial and categorizing all white people on the same light.

            You’re the one that seems to have gotten it all wrong

        • Yet I see fans in the stands booing the players that kneel during the National anthem. That is so disrespectful AND hypocritical. Perhaps if the players felt heard, they would have less reason to protest in this way. It has attracted so much attention both negative and positive that a true leader would know how to de escalate rather than incite more divisiveness.

        • Patty, can you name a war since the Revolution that we have fought for our freedom? I can maybe spot you a point for the Aleutians in WWII, but of course Alaska wasn’t a state at that point, and nor was Hawaii. One bomb did land and kill a woman on Oregon, but wasn’t followed by invasion… please tell me what wars were fought “for freedom”. I’d be interested in hearing. People say that so often.

          • War of 1812. A little thing called the civil war where the union soldiers were led into battle by the stars and stripes. Fighting for the freedom of the slaves whose descendants are most of the protesters of today,

        • Would you complain about flags on bikinis or shorts? Because that does go against the official “respecting our flag” rules. There is so much flag/national anthem disrespect going on in our country. These athletes are showing respect for our Constitution. Military take an oath to uphold the Constitution, NOT the flag or the anthem!

        • Our military members do not swear an oath to the flag or the anthem. They swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. The flag and the anthem are NOTHING without the Constitution. You have the right to be an imbecile, but you and your ilk make not for the “more perfect Union.”

          Military Oath of Enlistment:
          I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…

          First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:
          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        • You’ve missed this point: African Americans are the ones injured, dead, and still keeping watch. They’re just doing it within their own country’s land. So why can’t the flag provide the same coverage for them as our brave soldiers elsewhere.?

        • It made me sick how many plastic colours blown off of cars after 9/11 I had to pull from the gutter. I am sure the folk who attached them to their cars meant well.

        • Do you also object to flag tugs, bathing suits, napkins, plates, shirts, jackets? Do you write these companies, fume on FB? Because these are desecrations, says so in USC. Supreme Court, late Antonin Scalia included, has ruled these free speech. Either you believe in obeying the law–respect authority–or you don’t. It’s simple. BTW service members take oath to Constitution they do not recite Pledge of Alliance.

        • The wars we fought in were to ensure that Americans have freedom. Even if it’s kneeling during the anthem.
          Saying their protesting the flag is like saying Ghandi’s hunger strike was a protest against snacks.

          • The wars we fought in were to ensure that Americans have freedom. Freedom to protest peacefully. Saying that it’s a protest against the flag is like saying that Ghandi’s hunger strike was a protest against snacks.

        • Sure, that flag symbolizes the things you mention. It also represents freedoms and rights minorities don’t always enjoy and THAT is the basis for these protests. You can be sick all you want but that flag isn’t solely yours. It belongs to every American, and until every American has an equal share of liberty and justice then EVERY American has the right protest in any peaceful way they choose.

    • When you sign on for a sports team, is standing, sitting, or saluting the flag part of your contract? I think that kind of control is only for the military, not civilians.

    • When you’re given a platform, you use it. Do you have a problem when actors or other people who are well known use theirs to stand up for their social causes or beliefs? Chances are no. You’re merely trying to find a reason why this is wrong. Sad.

      • I find Pavlovitz’ comments to be more in line with my thinking than anyone I have ever encountered before. However, I found this response to be so judgemental an so contrary to everything I have ever read by him before. I am a white man but people always think I am Middle Eastern, Mexican, Native American. Plus I’m gay so I kind of know how stereotypes and judgements can be destructive. My counter view has NOTHING to do with his looks or race. I simply think the National Anthem is not the time for this protest. No, our country is not perfect but saying the pledge or standing for the anthem asks us to participate in being a part of a democratic process that allows us to constructively take part in developing our country to be what we want it to be. As a teacher, I am committed to educating our students and leaders of our future. Collin K. Is welcome to come to my school and participate in a Socratic Seminar to have a civil discussion if he would like. I do not disagree with what he says– I DO disagree with when he is saying it. I appreciate his intention and hope he can bring attention to the cause without creating more polarity and showing utter disregard for people like the Buffalo Soldiers. Secondly, a million dollars is a nice donation but it is a small percentage of his salary and not an enormous personal sacrifice. John, I love what you write , normally; but, I found you to be using a very broad brush to paint anyone in disagreement to “taking a knee”. 7000 former students would tell you although I am white, few promote or are as passionate about promoting equity and fighting. I sincerely hope the next time Mr. Kaepernick or any other wants to take a knee, it is be bedside to hold the hand and bring comfort to a disabled vet at Walter Martin. Your issue would be better received if you would not alienate some of those who have given you the opportunity to maintain the freedom and liberties that you are exercising.

        • Why can’t it be both/and? Why must it be either/or? Protest AND comfort a vet? And how do you know his personal life? you don’t. you have no idea what he has or hasn’t done for vets. you also ignore the fact that some vets supported his protest.
          Whether you are accidentally mistaken as a person of color or not is irrelevant to the fact that you benefit from a system that elevates the white man above all others. You’re telling him that taking a knee in protest is more unjust than a racist anthem that was written in celebration of slavery is wrong, You’ve never lived his experience, even if you’ve got olive skin and tan features. When you are pulled over in a traffic stop, you don’t fear that your attire and your skin color may intimidate someone enough to justify their internal biases and trigger happy fingers. Law enforcement officers and soldiers sign up for a dangerous job. That is why they are honored and praised and automatically labeled as public servants and heroes. Being a person of color driving in a white town doesn’t earn you a ribbon. But nowadays, making it out alive sure as heck ought to. It is a shame that I have sweet, Christian, law abiding, Black female friends who have been pulled over multiple times for a claim of broken tail light that was never broken, or accused of speeding when they were cautiously going under the speed limit, on an incline. They were pulled over simply for being Black. And by the grace of God, in both situations they were let off with a “warning” (for a fake accusation). and left the scene traumatized. Crying, shaking, feeling that their rights had been violated and their worst fears could have easily come to pass. One friend said that , when 4 “Backup” cruisers arrived as she sat terrified in her car waiting for the officer to look up her DL info, incredible fear overcame her- she knew that ANYTHING could happen to her in that moment, and no one there would plead her cause and defend her name. Shortly thereafter she left the church. And I have no doubt that it’s due to our white congregation’s unwillingness to see our sin and our responsibility in this, to have the tough conversations, and to call each other to higher ground. We will be held accountable.

          • I feel for parents of black children who must have a serious conversation with their little boys–as young as 8 or 9–about appropriate behavior if accosted by police. One misstep = death.

          • And just how exactly is the national Athens racist? The words are from a poem written By Francis Scott Key celebrating the fact that Fort McHnery’s Flag did not fall and thus the fort was still in U.S. control after the British bombardment during the war of 1812. Again what exactly is racist about it?

            • “What exactly is racist about [The Star Spangled Banner]?

              The third verse.

              “No refuge could save the hireling and slave
              From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
              And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
              O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

            • Lyrics from the third verse:

              “No refuge could save the hireling and slave
              From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

              Seems pretty racist to me. And Key was a slave owner, so there’s that.

            • The verse that is sung from The star spangled banner is just one verse of the poem that Key wrote. If you read the whole poem you will find that Key very much spoke in racist rhetoric towards the slave (black people). I would entourage you to take the time to read the whole poem and research it. Just because we the verse that isn’t racist per se does not mean we should not look at the bigger picture and what was the feeling behind the whole poem…there was racism.

            • It’s not the anthem itself, but the country it represents, and the unequal treatment under the law that POC experience on a regular basis. If you can’t see that, this conversation is already over your head.

            • (Again, not that the anthem itself is relevant to what’s being protested, but it’s racist anyways so) how about the lines of the third verse where Francis Scott Key condemns the slaves who turned on their masters to fight for the British? A full stanza to gloat about killing slaves! America!

              And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
              That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
              A home and a Country should leave us no more?
              Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
              No refuge could save the hireling and slave
              From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
              And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
              O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

            • Clearly you know nothing about Francis Scott Key’s racist history or the third verse of his anthem, which is so vile it’s no longer sing in polite company…

            • Get the entire song not just the stanza that is commonly sung today.
              Verse 3
              And where that band so
              vauntingly swore
              That the havoc of war and the batter’s confusion,
              A home and a country, should leave us no more
              Their blood has washed their foul footstep’s pollution
              No refuge could save the hireling and slave
              From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave
              And the star spangled banner. In triumph doth save
              O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

              A fifth stanza was written by
              Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1861 in indignation of the start of the Civil War.

        • The issue I have with people who take the stance above is that the latest argument (oh, it’s offending the soldiers and history of Military sacrifice) doesn’t exactly hold true. Most military members EXPLICITLY fight for EXACTLY the right for Collin K. to protest WHENEVER and HOWEVER he wants. In a word, freedom. That’s what their sacrifice and service was actually done for.

          Next, the fact that he and others put a million dollar career on the line to do it should wake the public up and assure said public of the severity of the issue. Who was paying attention before? Who is at least discussing it now –pro or con.

          The fact that anyone then ridicules how much he donated ($1M) is both a Strawman argument and ultimately inmaterial. Again— who are you, me, we to TELL another person HOW to protest or donate so it fits our idea of acceptability and agreement? That was the underlying point in Pavlovitz’s article.

          It shouldn’t matter, but fyi for the uninformed, Collin K. Has donated to MANY other causes, he also has created, hosted and attends live SEVERAL programs throughout the year in mentorship, education and community building. You may not see it but others do –that’s the point of true service, not publicity and justification but actual movement and impact for the communities you intend to serve. Other people jumping online and telling someone their effort (public or non-public, singular or plural) is not enough is a pet peeve of mine. Who made any of us judge of someone else’s efforts. Dude, he can’t get picked up by a team (which had to know was a potential consequence) and people are still sitting there from the safety of their computers telling him how he should have donated more or protested differently. Really? Where do they do that at?

          My main POV is I have yet to find a military person to tell me the opposite. We are 3 generations of uniformed service on both sides of our fam tree. They all have agreed this far –them, their friends, their circles— that his protest doesnt offend them. That it’s what they fought for, and that censorship of this type of protest is what they looked down upon in other countries. That they are proud to their last breath that we don’t do that here in thr U.S.. To me it seems anyone using that argument (it offends the military and their sacrifice) is the offensive part. Don’t you know what they fought for?

          While opinions of the military circles around me is not a scientific study and while I’m sure there are military folks somewhere who feel opposite — I wonder if this objection is just deep down just another way to voice your own “discomfort”. That’s what good non-violent protest does— makes you uncomfortable and gets you to think and pay attention because the protester uses a time and place where they have a platform to challenge the views of those who are watching said platform. Would you pay attention if he was marching with a sign every Sunday outside of a stadium. Nope.

          Now, this conversation is happening everywhere in most every home and draws attention of the unknowing that this freedom you value and cherish and honor so much isn’t being experienced by all. Effective, non-violent, protest that calls attention to true unjustice and puts a million dollar career on the line in sacrifice. How about that?

        • Shane, I am half white/half Japanese and can easily pass as white/mono-racial if I want to. Even though English is my second language, my accent is perfect Pacific Northwest because I was young when we immigrated to the U.S. My Japanese accent is also perfect, I speak just like my relatives from Hiroshima, who are atomic bomb surviviors or descendants like me. My father was a Marine until the ’60s, putting in over 20 years in the service, which includes WWII, Korea and Vietnam. I had a horrible life in Japan because of my obvious mixed heritage. I was beaten, molested, told to get off of public buses, etc. My second grade teacher told me once I was a lucky girl because there are so many other children in the world who was uglier than me. Before moving to the U.S., my white father had many lectures about using my white privilege in North America, about how I needed to behave to protect myself and to have any chance of succeeding there. He taught me to carefully use my technically non-white status to my advantage and survive with awareness. In the U.S., I became a child and young woman well respected by my peers. I was a state finalist in a beauty pageant, regional level officer in couple of international organizations while in high school and college, won many scholarships and had my pick of universities to attend. Other than issues for women, my employers appreciated me and I never felt any resistance from anybody … unless I ‘come out’ as non-white. I’m tellling you this because you seem, to me, think that explaining your background somehow justifies your viewpoint so here’s my background. Now that you and I understand that the two of us have a lot in common, I’m going to tell you that my father did not fight to have our flag or our anthem or any symbol representing the United States of America to have greater value than the basic rights of the citizens of his, our, country. If he was still alive, he would be crushed that the specific lessons he taught about keeping your mouth shut except in safe environments still applies. On top of all this, he AND my mother would be infuriated that a marginalized person like you would actually believe those symbols of representation has greater value than speaking up for all of us at any venue available. You say that you’ve been mistaken as a person of color and been treated badly. You say that you are a member of the LGBTQ community so you understand bigotry. 7000 former students will happily tell all of us that you’ve done so much work supporting racial minorities. Still, to me, the bottom line is, you are a White Boy from United States of America and you don’t appreciate any of us protesting that representation.

        • According to the law of the land, nobody may be compelled to stand for the anthem, made to say the pledge of allegiance, salute anything or sing anything. Nobody may be forced to attest to their patriotism or asked to prove it. But you want to impose that on Colin Kaepernick, and you want to seem reasonable while you do it. Big fail, teach.

        • You realize he is no longer receiving a salary, sine he has been black balled by every team. Do you realize it was a service member that counciled him to kneel that the n the military it signifies respect? Why is the National Anthem played at sports events? Nothing particularly political or patriotic about sports. If you don’t like it don’t look!

    • When these people are on the “Payroll” of the team owners, they are representing the values of the owners that sign their pay checks. They have NO right to use the owners stage to express their own private views on any subject. If they wish to protest, DO IT ON THEIR OWN TIME, OFF the stage of the teams owners. Since many of the team owners have ignored this and allowed these JERKS to use the Owner’s stage to conduct their private dislike for conditions based on their private thoughts of what is fair. Now that the public has spoken, they are wondering how they missed all the signs that were obvious to those, paying the “Bills”, the FANS.

      • “they are representing the values of the owners that sign their pay checks. ” Really? Do any of the players’ contracts require this? Because I have never heard of such a thing. Do you have to represent your employer’s values? Suppose the owners’ values include wife-beating, dogfighting, incest, pedophilia and/or drunk driving. Would they be required to represent those values if they disagreed with them? And how do you know what the owners’ values are? Did they tell you?

    • As an African American descended from slaves, Kaepernick’s opposition to the Star Spangled Banner is understandable. Here is a lesser known verse:

      No refuge could save the hireling and SLAVE
      From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave
      And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave.

      There is a controversy of the meaning of slaves in that verse, but as escaped slaves, they looked to the enemy, England, as their hope of freedom. Their own country didn’t recognize them as citizens. That, to me, doesn’t seem like it should inspire the descendants of those slaves to honor that song. It’s the context. Even if that verse isn’t sung. The song is offensive.

      I’m Jewish, and if there were an unsung antisemitic verse to a song, I would consider that song offensive.

      It might be similar to the Robert E Lee statue and Rebel flag issue. We have to stop honoring those tributes to slavery. And stop closing our eyes to the evils of our country’s past. Those are some things I learned living in Germany. Remember the past, recognize your mistakes and atrocities and learn from them. But don’t honor the evildoers.

    • I wholeheartedly disagree with your sentiment about just “doing what the team is doing”. For starters, the playing of the National anthem is a pre-game ritual. He did not negatively impact any team-based activities or game play. I applaud his use of pre-game time in such a way as to draw the eyes of folks to a problem that must be addressed. Then again, I would applaud that effort regardless of where/when he chose to make his statement. If you read the article, you’d realize that your reaction of “Well, he shouldn’t have…” is exactly the problem.

    • That’s the best you got Joann? He evidently has you pegged right in the article. Since it’s his protest, you don’t get to determine how or why he’s protesting.

    • It’s just a football uniform, not a military uniform that he wears. Kaepernick has done exactly what said he should do. He’s donated money and resources for several causes. So now does he get to protest the horrendous treatment of people of color at the hands of some police officers? Does he have your permission?

    • These guys have it so much better than the slaves. After all, if a slave protested he would be whipped! And the team owner can only fire his protesters. Lots of progress. Maybe that’s what they’re protesting?

    • Which is just another way of saying he should have given up the best platform he had to have his message spread. Tim Tebow spread his message on the field all the time, in uniform, by praying ostentatiously before the game, but Kaepernick can’t kneel respectfully before HIS game? Double standard.

    • I respectfully disagree. While he is in uniform on camera, he has the greatest chance of being seen and heard. He is, as you said, a member of a team, BUT he is an individual as well, in a position because of his membership on said team to be in front of millions of people that have yet to fully appreciate their lack of worry about the prospects of mistreatment at the hands of authorities. What better opportunity, I ask, would he have to voice his consternation at such mistreatment?

  2. Exactly so, John. People are in denial about their white privilege. They are in denial that they have white privilege. Christians, who I assume are the target audience of this blog, who fail to grasp why we say #BlackLivesMatter, are part of the problem that creates an environment that allows cops to get away with killing unarmed, defenceless, non-violent black people. Such Christians are failing to love their neighbor.

    White supremacists have been committing a lot of atrocities in recent years.

    All of this outrage over Colin is a red herring. He called attention to a real problem and because people don’t want to face their real issue and stay in denial, they make up something to be outraged about.

    What’s really sad, is that fifty years after the 1968 Olympics, it’s still an issue.

    Wanna be outraged over something? Let’s be outraged about gerrymandering, redistricting, racist laws disenfranchising people from voting. And cops killing black people. Those are real issues over which we need to solving.

      • Thank you

        I am really beginning to believe that it is only the bigots and racists who have a problem with such a simple, quiet protest.

        • absolutely. and the worst ones are those that claim they are open minded and “listening” when they’re really just wolves in sheep’s clothing. they’re coming close to hear what we talk about in our safe spaces, only to speak loudly and justify their own opinions, and to drown out those who they always have spoken over, and to try to negate our efforts to gently show them their bigotry. they say, “No, I am not racist! see, I attended the discussion on racial reconciliation! I am not those you speak of.” But neglect to see that they SPOKE over everyone the entire time and didn’t HEAR anything.

          • I read recently, and I am certain if someone doesn’t believe me, they can google it, that the House is proposing to make peaceful protest a felony.

            As our right to express ourselves politically is a matter of the First Amendment, this is proof that these people the bigots have elected, place no value in the Bill of Right except the Second Amendment. which they don’t understand.

            The issue of white privilege is so deeply entrenched in our society and will only go away when people individually repent of it. But that is hard for so many because it means they have t confront their own bigotry and racism and know they have something to feel guilty about and to be filled with shame over. They don;t want to feel those feelings so they project blame onto someone else.

            Jesus didn’t suffer in the cross to make us Christians, He did it to make us better people.

          • Okay, now, this really irritates me. Anyone who disagrees with you on this issue has to be a racist? Please. The old adage ‘anyone who drives slower than me is an idiot and faster than me is crazy.’ Come on!

            • Either explicitly or unconsciously, they are racist. But here’s the thing: everyone is a little bit racist. We’ve grown up in a society where stereotypes about skin color are so pervasive that children start to display them before they go to school. We have to deliberately, carefully unpack that racist heritage in order to begin to get rid of it. Anyone who takes “he’s disrespecting the flag/anthem!” at face value has either failed to unpack their racist inherited ideas, or has not bothered to try.

      • Ivy, thank you.

        The truth must be told.

        I am a white person. I know I have white privilege. I know I use it every single day. The society and culture of the USA has drummed it into me.

        But here’s the thing: I know white privilege is evil. It is based on a lie and it perpetuates a lie. What I can do is repent of it every single day of my life. I strive to come ever more out of denial about my white privilege.

        If we claim to be Christians, we can do no other because God created every single person exactly as it please God to create them. My job is to love my neighbor. No exceptions.

    • Yes! I’d like to see some of these privileged white people transported to a black majority environment. Just for a day! They have no idea. We need to do better at teaching children empathy. I think we have a lot of emotionally stunted people in our society.

  3. John, there is some stuff that doesn’t need to be said and you’ve just done it. If it’s appropriate for a black football player to protest as he sees fit, it is equally appropriate for “these people” to object to the manner of his protest without being labelled as liars, arrogant, and unjust. Is it possible to protest the injustices in society without disrespecting what is honorable? I understand that Kaepernick does not see the same meaning in the flag as I do. That does not make is right for him to disrespect it any more than for me to disrespect other symbols people value……the cross, the star of David, the crescent, the rainbow flag, etc. While there are other ways to protest other than to “shut up or be white” (shame on you), he chose one that offends many people…..don’t marginalize us with you judgementalism.

    • Tell me this, when Donal Trump during one of the candidates’debates failed to salute our flag by putting his hand over his heart, were you as outraged by that as you are by Colin’s action? In Trump’s case, I think it was the worse error because he was probably so wrapped up in his own greatness that he forgot to honor the flag. Colin honored the flag, the **symbol** of our country by exercising his First Amendment rights.

      Focusing on the so-called disrespect is choosing to be in denial about the message. Perhaps you are too young to remember Muhammed Ali’s protests on behalf of black people in the 1960s until his recent death. Perhaps you are too young to remember the 1968 Olympics. Colin is this generation’s form of protesting the treatment of black people, in this case specifically against the murders of so many black people by cops. If you can’t grasp the concepts of white privilege, how the USA has abused black people, if you object to a very peaceful protest, you are possibly part of the problem.

      Remember when Jackie Robinson said the same thing as Colin Kaepernick … pretty much?

      Colin Kaepernick Doesn’t Owe White People A Defense Of His Actions

    • Google the poem that the national anthem was taken from. Read the third stanza. It reeks of ungodly venom geared towards the slaves. The guy who wrote it was a known racist. If you were unaware, you’re forgiven for this post. However, if you knew, you can burn in hell with the author of the poem.

      • Dear Anonymous……I don’t get the same understanding of the third stanza that you apparently do, and after a little research I’d say your interpretation is unique. In any case my critique is not of Kaepernick’s protest but of Pavlovitz’s criticism of those who think it inappropriate. Perhaps you can be as brave as Kaepernick by giving your name when you damn people to hell.

        • Rodger, are you seriously claiming that you don’t see references to slavery in this line for the bloodthirsty, warmongering Star Spangled Banner?

          “O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand”

          Do you seriously believe the word “freemen” includes slaves? Or women, for that matter.

          • Frankly I don’t know what it means but have just read interpretations by several historians it the meaning is unclear. This phrase could refer to black regiments fighting for the British, impressed sailors, or several other options. Perhaps only Key knows what he meant and we don’t get to assign our own meaning to his words. In any case, Kaepernick did not say he was protesting prejudicial words in the National Anthem so I don’t see how it’s relevant.

            • “Freemen” is a word with an unambiguous meaning. I suspect “several historians” don’t want to face up to the inherent racist content within our National Anthem.

              As for saying you don’t see how it is relevant, that seems very disingenuous to me since Colin refused to get to his feet during the Anthem, so it seems quite relevant.

              • He was trying to get attention since he wasn’t getting any on the field anymore!! I’m quite sure, he didn’t know what the third stanza meant nor ever investigated it. With all the attention and money he got as a professional athlete, If he felt so strongly, why did he not get involved with making changes in our country. Not quite sure how him sitting for the national anthem is helping anything besides drawing attention to a football player who now sits the bench.

                • Oh, there’s anonymous cowardly hiding again.

                  The enormity of the assumptions you make is truly impressive. Why are you so quick to criticize him for things of which you have zero knowledge? You have absolutely no idea what he does or does not do to make changes.

                  To assume with no evidence that he does not is small-minded thinking.

                • ” I’m quite sure, he didn’t know what the third stanza meant nor ever investigated it.” Yeah, how could a black man ever understand anything that a white man wrote? How arrogant of you. I’m quite sure that you know all about black people. /s

        • “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
          No refuge could save the hireling and slave
          From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:”

          Seriously, you don’t get that?

          • Annie….what do you think Key meant by this in the context of the 1812 anthem and why?

            Gloriamarie….I think it’s not relevant for two reasons: 1. Kaepernick said was protesting the murders committed by the SF police but said nothing about the anthem; 2. my original post was not critical of Kaepernick’s protest but of Pavlovitz’s critique of people who disagree with Kaepernick.

            • Rodger, it staggers me that you don’t think the Anthem is relevent when it is what Colin did not stand up for and all sortsof people have come down hard on him for doing. I daresay if a white guy failed to stand up for the Anthem, no one would make a fuss even though Trump failed to salute the flag durine the Pledge when he omitted to place his right hand over his heart.

              People who disagree with Colin’s exercise of his first amendment rights pretty much seem to be people who think that it is hogwash to say


              • Let me take one more stab at this. I think my disagreement with you is over who gets to decide what Kaepernick’s protest or Key’s anthem is about. My opinion is that neither you nor I can do that. Kaepernick has spoken clearly what he is protesting and it’s not the National Anthem. (I still don’t know what Key meant and he’s not here to explain.)

                What Kaepernick said is, “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.”

                Apparently he is not concerned with the National Anthem but with what he thinks is happening in our country and his attempt to bring attention to those issues. In at post-game press conference he mentioned oppressed people, unequal opportunity, police brutality, and other concerns. He did not mention racial bias found in the National Anthem so it is not relevant to his protest.

                Again I have no problem with his protest. However, I am slightly amused by the irony that 67% of the players in the NFL are black.

                • Hence demonstrating that you are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

                  Clearly in the USA all lives do not matter otherwise there would not be a need to discuss civil rights and how they are denied black people.

                  As far as I can tell, anyone who responds with “all lives matter” is someone who is creating the problem which compels people of compassion, empathy, and a knowledge of the history of this country’s brutal treatment of people of color to declare high, wide , and wonderful


            • Frankly, they say ‘rise for the national anthem’ but the anthem is just there to honor the FLAG. You are actually standing (or sitting or kneeling) for the FLAG. Get a new anthem as far as i am concerned. We have made more progress towards equality in the last 20 years than in all the years since the civil war put together. And more progress towards equality since the civil war than in all the years since the fall of Rome put together. No, it isn’t enough, it isn’t finished but sometimes i feel like the only person who looks behind me and smiles and says “I know we’ll make it someday, look how far we’ve come!”

    • Holding a nation – and its surrogate symbol – accountable is the highest form of respect. It’s means that you know they are capable of achieving much more.
      He’s not giving up on correcting the injustices perpetuated by white privilege and systemic racism, he’s inciting and encouraging people to listen, understand and change for the better.
      We should all respect each other like that.

    • I’m not sure that his action can be called disrespectful. He didn’t burn a flag, curse, call names, or mock anything/anyone – he simply took a knee. In return, he was called every name imaginable, reviled and vilified. Which was more disrespectful – the guy who enacted a peaceful protest, or the people who called him a POS (among other terrible names) for doing so?

    • This is disheartening. You compared someone standing up for social injustice to people complaining that someone is doing so…I am wishing hoping and praying you do not call yourself a believer because if so, your theology,blind eyes and deaf ears are the reason that more and more people are rejecting not only God but Christianity and its followers. If you’re trying to show the world what Jesus looks like … Congratulations you have failed. You are more loyal to your country than you are faith and doctrine.
      On the other hand , if you are not a believer, then quite frankly I have nothing more to say. You are a member of a group of people who are unable to sympathize with anyone unlike yourself and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Except you. Open your eyes.

      • Siobhan Patterson: you wrote >>On the other hand , if you are not a believer, then quite frankly I have nothing more to say. You are a member of a group of people who are unable to sympathize with anyone unlike yourself and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Except you. Open your eyes.<<
        I find this statement to be INCREDIBLY offensive. Your statement indicates that you consider an adherence to Christianity is a prerequisite for anyone to "sympathize with anyone unlike yourself and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that." I beg your pardon, but it can be argued that historically Christianity is directly responsible for more pain, suffering, misery, and death than any other religion (or any other institution) in the history of the world. There are many good, kind, empathetic, and loving people of many many faiths–including Atheism and Satanism–and if you want to start asserting otherwise we can open up a discussion of all the hatefulness that the followers of Jesus have inflicted upon a world that would have more joy within it if your faith had never gotten beyond being an obscure Hebrew cult.

    • I’m a white gay man and I’m acutely aware of my white privilege because I was blessed with falling in love with a powerful, intelligent, talented, articulate and honorable black man in my 20’s. I can’t count the number of times when I had to stand aside and watch, uninvolved (by his request/demand) while he was repeatedly demeaned, humiliated, insulted, dismissed, and infantilized by the American white power structure. What was even more painful was having to watch him TAKE IT without complaint or comment; it was the status quo for him, I was the oddity because I not only loved him, I revered him and discovered that he was a better person, a better man, than I had ever imagined was possible in this debased era.
      This was also during the height of the AIDS pandemic, and we watched hundreds of men that we counted as brothers and comrades die horribly while the straight world–and our straight President–said NOTHING, did NOTHING, and turned their backs on us. We learned.(the the Gods did we learn) that the ONLY way to get the heterosexual majority of our fellow citizens to even acknowledge our existence was to engage in outrageous acts of protest that offended their delicate Breeder sensibilities and FORCED them to pay attention to all the death that had previously been mostly ignored. That’s the thing, and I think that this may be what informed the choices that Mr. Kaepernick made about how to make his statement. Because I call tell you from my personal experience that polite, civil discourse has NEVER gotten the White Heterosexual majority to consider allowing ANY minority in America a seat at the table. So long as a minority’s can be perceived as a humble supplicant we/they will NEVER receive even a modicum of respect. I KNOW that Mr. Kaepernick could have called press conference after press conference, he could have written articles and polemics, and manifestos until he developed writer’s cramp and the rest of America–WHITE America would have completely ignored him. But you know what? His simple act of defiance–of less than 5 minutes in duration–has gotten people talking. Ultimately, those of us who are members of an oppressed minority (yes, I used the term “oppressed” because anyone who is not a White, Heterosexual, Cis, C hristian, Male in America is oppressed) couldn’t give a damn whether ya’ll Oppressors approve of the actions we take in protest, just so long as you are aware of, and talk about, our protests.

    • Actually Kaepernick probably DOES see the same meaning in the flag as you do–and that’s exactly why he is protesting, because the NATION in its ACTIONS is not upholding what the flag is supposed to stand for.

      What’s the capstone of the Pledge of Allegiance? The most important clause, which is often overlooked because it is placed at the end, at the apex, where the most important part of a composition is usually placed?

      “…with liberty and justice for all.”

      That’s probably what he sees in the flag–and does NOT see in his nation. He is calling us to honor the flag by bringing back “liberty and justice for all.”

      Or, maybe to bring liberty and justice for all to the nation for the first time ever.

    • You do know that Kaepernick changed from sitting during the anthem to kneeling during it because some veterans told him it would be more respectful to kneel, right? That he sees it as akin to a flag at half-mast, a prayerful response to the hurt inflicted on black America? That, when a flag is presented to the family at a military funeral, it’s done by someone kneeling? All these things are evoked by his kneeling during the anthem, and he’s evoking them deliberately and after reflection and consultation.

  4. I always comment here with thanks for saying what so many of us are thinking – and saying it so beautifully and with wisdom. But now I’m realizing how courageous you are and maybe pissed off, as well as is Colin Kaepernick. The only thing we whites can do – with any honor or respect IS listen. And then following up with action. Unless, of course, we intend to continue in ignorant bigotry. While we cannot know what it means to be black in America, no matter how empathetic we think we are, we are all capable of learning and evolving…

    Oh! And thanks again –

  5. This man’s protest reminds me of how so many reacted to protests against the war in Vietnam several decades ago now. I have always responded to the critics of the very American right to protest in the same way: You speak of those who have fought and of those who have died to defend this nation and its way of life. That way of life includes the freedom to protest injustice. Are you now saying that those who fought and died to defend our nation did so only to protect a specific, particular opinion or position? Are you now saying that the defense of the nation protects only a particular way of thinking, acting and living? If that is what you are saying, then you are being hypocritical and you demean the sacrifice of so many.

    If we are a nation that values the freedom of expression, the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to protest, then we cannot limit such actions to a particular political, religious or ideological position. Doing so stains the Constitution of the United States with hypocrisy.

    I recently heard someone quote the late poet Carl Sandburg. He was asked what the ugliest word in the English language was. His response: “Exclusive” Ponder that for a moment. Are the freedoms we enjoy inclusive or exclusive? If we are to remain true to the ideals upon which our nation was founded and upon which so much human sacrifice has been made, then we must be inclusive or we are a sham, a fraud….worse yet, an empty promise. No one owns our freedom but us. The fact that this man was wearing a particular team’s football uniform is immaterial. They neither own him nor his rights.

    Freedom is NOT being forced to sing an anthem or recite a pledge. Freedom is the choice of whether to do either of those. If we forget that, we are a lost cause.

  6. As one who did early on question this Kaepernick strategy and suggest it may generate more heat than light, I’ve done some serious mind-changing here. Yes, it did seem like shooting the sacred cow may have made things worse not better. But having learned more about our actual anthem and its author, I’ve realized this is far bigger than a single act of protest. It was a call to conversation about racism that deserves a few exclamations among the question marks.

  7. Colin Kaepernick’s brave decision: An open letter to the 49ers quarterback
    “You will now be mentioned in the ranks with other courageous athletes like the late great Muhammad Ali …” VIDEO

    Dear Brother Kaepernick,

    I could only imagine the repetitive thump of vomitous noise you are hearing from the racist parasites that hinder American growth. So much that maybe you questioned your decision — I hope not, but if you did, I’d like to say that we are proud you chose to sit out again and that the people are with you.

    I don’t speak for every person of color, nor do I try to; however, as a community activist, professor, and writer, I have a firsthand experience in dealing with some of the victims you sided with when you sat the anthem out — through dealing with police brutality, struggling to navigate through this racist system, and drying the tears of Baltimore residents who had to watch Freddie Gray’s murderers go free. Often the fight feels like a hopeless nightmare, but the work so many of us activists are doing in an effort to enhance social relations has just been elevated by your brave decision. My time in modern activism has taught me not to rely on professional athletes or entertainers in general, and you changed that.

    Don’t get it twisted, we will certainly welcome any high profile help that we can get, but I understand that over 95% of these predominantly black-stacked teams have white owners who don’t understand what its like to be black in America, probably don’t care, and have benefited from the racist legacy attached to the American flag. They have a vested interest in patriotism and nationalism, as it has played a key role in their businesses, their families, the billions of dollars they make. Anything against the ideologies that are directly connected to the money is criminal, and no endorsement-seeking athlete wants to be seen as a criminal or traitor, they just want to get paid for their talents, as they should.

    I also respect the professional athletes who understand these issues, but don’t want to ruffle any feathers because they use their money to bring about systemic change in a different way, which is also valuable. Either way, your decision is monumental and you will now be mentioned in the ranks with other courageous athletes like the late great Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Craig Hodges, John Carlos, and Tommy Smith. All of you are honorable and took huge gambles just to be on the right side of history, regarding morality and representing the plight of your people. And Colin, you are also on the right side of history by boycotting the anthem, as it wasn’t intended for black people when it was created by Francis Scott Key, a slave owner in 1814.

    I explained his role in the toxic legacy of the song in my book, “The Beast Side,” published last year: “Francis Scott Key sang for freedom while enslaving blacks. His hatred even bled into the lyrics of the elongated version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ you won’t hear at a sporting event. The third stanza reads, ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.’

    That line was basically a shot at the slaves who agreed to fight with the British in exchange for their freedom. Who wouldn’t want freedom, and how could he not understand them opting out for a better life?

    A life free of mass whippings, rape and unpaid labor. Andrew Jackson caught wind of slaves agreeing to fight with the British in exchange for freedom and made a similar promise to thousands of slaves in Louisiana. He told them if they protected Louisiana, they could be free after the war. Well, we won the war, and then Jackson reneged on the deal. He went on to be president while the brave Africans who fought with honor went back into servitude.

    Jackson’s lie was followed by generation after generation of broken promises. It’s 200 years later and America still enslaves a tremendous amount of its population through poverty, lack of opportunity, false hopes of social mobility, unfair educational practices and the prison industrial complex.”

    This essay alone brought me hundreds of death threats and cost me money, and some employment opportunities that I really needed at the time it was published, but it was the right thing to do and I wouldn’t change a word. Hopefully your boycott will be followed by more public figures taking a stand and pushing to truly make this country a better place. The other day I saw a funny meme with a picture of that clown Donald Trump spewing hate about America not being great and receiving love from the same people ripping you for being brave, in our nation of double standards — and that’s the problem.

    Too many Americans act like loving this country means never criticizing this country and that’s just stupid. Blindly praising a flag and not acknowledging the problems that exist is the most un-American thing a person can do. When did challenging our country to be better become anti American? That same mentality is responsible for our country lagging in education, healthcare, life expectancy — we are just claiming to be the greatest without doing the work.

    James Baldwin once wrote, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” We change flat tires and put cast on broken arms in this country — we fix problems. So why are so many of our citizens suffering without notice? If you truly love America, you’d challenge it and all it’s flaws until it was a place where equality truly exists, that’s what you are doing and that’s what being great is all about.

    Thank you again for choosing the people, we salute you.

    One Love,

    D. Watkins

    Below, watch D. Watkins chat with activist Tariq Toure about Colin Kaepernick and police brutality

  8. John, I often read your posts and agree with most. As a white, middle class, middle aged woman, I agree with you 100% on this.

    Over the last few years I have become aware of my white priveledge and am working on and leaning into learning about what I can do, how I can be an ally. I also have a child in the milatary. I don’t equate not standing for the anthem as a disrespect for them. I do believe it is our civic duty to protest injustice and I am grateful for the internet in helping to bring these “isolated” instances to light. And the disparity in sentencing guidelines across the country, and how and who judges give those breaks.

    I live in a suburb of Chicago, a city really hurting right now. It is heartbreaking every Monday morning to hear the shooting and death statistics.

    Thank you for continuing to give those of us a voice who aren’t as good as you are at verbalizing our thoughts, hearts, and voices.

  9. Another example of the media driving what the nation believes, thinks, responds to, get their emotions in an uproar and wastes their time on.

    WHO cares? I certainly don’t! WE stress over the most ridiculous things – kind of like the bible verse that states – strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

    People need useful things to do, too, too much time is spent on the trivial and too little on character building – their own.

    • The deaths of innocent, unarmed people who are MURDERED at the hands of those who are paid to protect us is NOT TRIVIAL!!!

      • I am assuming you are not a person of color—so it’s all easy for you to be dismissive because you don’t live the situation on a daily basis.

  10. I am white too—just in case some of you do not know. John has hit the nail on the head in his main post.

    “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” That is what Jesus said. Southern Baptist pastors have often said that the word “meek” in this context does not mean “the humble and lowly.” Rather, it refers to “the right use of power.” So, the meek are those human beings who use power in the right way.

    Kaep. used power in the right way with his protest. I want to show you, in action, an example of the right use of power by the fictional wealthiest and most powerful woman in a small Colorado town. Her name is Charlotte. She and her husband Jim own the Venneford Ranch, which was basically all of northeastern Colorado in this novel by James A. Michener. This is a brief film clip from the TV miniseries “Centennial” (1978 Universal Pictures). Click on the following link and drag the time ball over to 1:02:11 and watch the unfolding of a brief trial about bigotry and watch how Charlotte and Jim rightly use their enormous power for good:

  11. I just finished watching Ken Burns’ two part documentary on Jackie Robinson. Once Robinson was freed in 1949 to speak his mind, people began to tell him his “tone” was wrong. Not much has changed.

  12. Frankly I don’t know what it means. However I’ve just now read comments from several historians (not political pundits), and they don’t seem to know what it means either. Apparently it could refer to black soldiers used by the British, the custom of impressing sailors, or other things. Only Key knows and we don’t get to assign a meaning to his words.

  13. I am reminded of some great words from the president’s speech in the movie The American President when he says,
    ” America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.
    Thank you to the writer of The American President and thank you, John P.
    It is hard, hard work to honor one another in our differences. But, let’s keep trying. In fact, let’s try harder.

  14. What continues to baffle me is the anger of people who are judging others (like those judging Kaepernick) at those who are saying we shouldn’t judge him, because those people’s argument seems to be, “don’t judge me for being so judgemental. You are so judgemental when you ask me not to judge others.”

  15. They’re not all for protesting, at least not for someone who looks like Kaepernick looks. 

    Bull. I’m objecting to the socks. Cops come in ALL colors. #bluelivesmatter

    • Colin said he wore those socks to protest “rouge” cops, who put *good cops* and the community at risk. Are you okay with rouge cops? We don’t hear the other cops or police unions calling out the rouge cops. Silence is agreement.

  16. Colin Kaepernick challenges sport’s nationalism, and our notion of it as safe space

    By Kevin B. Blackistone Columnist September 4 at 5:00 PM
    To represent the poor, they wore no shoes. To remind of violence against people of color, they sported African beads. To support the “Olympic Project for Human Rights,” they fastened white buttons that said so over the USA logo on the chest of their blue jackets.

    But all anyone wanted to talk about that night at the Mexico City Summer Games in 1968 was that Tommie Smith and John Carlos, black U.S. Olympic medal-winning sprinters, didn’t stand properly — with heads held high, and hands over heart — for a rendition of the national anthem. Instead, they punctuated the dark sky with black-gloved fists and lowered their heads in shame for what roiled then in America’s belly, police brutality against people of color who were responding to it with rebellion.

    What Smith and Carlos did was exercise the audacity to disrupt a sporting event — which we have been conditioned to believe is a societal safe space, a theater of escape, a spectacle sanitized of any of our ills — with a political declaration.

    Nearly half a century later, with the kickoff of this football season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick reminded us of how absurdly we still regard sporting events and their nationalistic rituals. He sat during three playings of the national anthem. He kneeled for another. He did so, he explained effusively, because he felt uncomfortable honoring the symbol of a country “that oppresses black people and people of color.”

    Like Smith and Carlos before him, Kaepernick, whose father is black, categorized his concerns. They echoed those of Smith and Carlos and the mission statement of our 21st century civil rights movement, #BlackLivesMatter.

    And just like in 1968, it wasn’t Kaepernick’s message that drew so much reaction; it was his method for dissemination. For he dared to protest in the athletic arena, where we wrap sporting events in a prophylactic of patriotism used to demand political conformity and suppress discourse.

    As sociologist Harry Edwards, who organized the group that birthed Smith’s and Carlos’s protest, reminded in his seminal 1973 text, Sociology of Sport: “Sport derives its root from ‘disport,’ meaning to divert oneself . . . by participating in the mirth and whimsy of frolic.”

    That may be fine for the ruling class that created sport and controls it — and for many among my vocation who publicize it — mostly for profit. But for modern-day athletes of color, like Smith, Carlos and Kaepernick, and others historically marginalized by society, like women and religious minorities, sport is not just fun and games. It is so much more. We were reminded of that in the early 1960s when Muhammad Ali reversed the self-emasculation, in particular, that the black athlete had agreed to in the 1930s and 1940s (and are oddly celebrated as national heroes for doing so) simply to participate.

    For those often disenfranchised in society, our games are the most visible space — an exalted space, a space from which most cannot turn away — to voice concern. They create a space in which those who feel that they are not being heard can be heard loud and clear.

    Baseball became a place where star Carlos Delgado, a native of Puerto Rico, could bring attention to the Navy’s use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a weapons testing ground, which Delgado and millions of his countrymen opposed, during the run-up to the Iraq War. Delgado protested in 2004 by refusing to rise from the dugout for the seventh-inning singing of “God Bless America.”

    It was a place where basketball star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996 stopped joining his Denver Nuggets teammates on the sideline until after “The Star-Spangled Banner” ended because he saw the anthem and flag as symbols of this country’s history of oppression here and abroad.

    Sport was a place where one-time University of Virginia basketball star Olden Polynice in the midst of his NBA career could bring attention to the plight of his fellow Haitian immigrants being held and deported by this country in 1994. He went on a hunger strike midseason.

    But there is no sport that provides as large and gaudy a platform as Kaepernick’s endeavor, football, which over the years has grown into a mammoth business bringing in tens of billions of dollars while being cloaked and marketed in more patriotic imagery than any other games. There are military flyovers. Every game includes a presentation of the colors featuring the branches of the military.

    The conflation of football and nationalism is so perverted that the NFL earlier this year said it was returning more than $700,000 of taxpayers’ money that was paid to 17 teams to put on military tributes. Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain uncovered the “paid patriotism” program, as it became known, in an audit of defense department marketing agreements.

    Even the meteoric rise of Baltimore-based athletic clothing manufacture Under Armour can be tied in part to its Freedom line, which decks out college teams like my alma mater, Northwestern, and the university at which I teach, Maryland, in uniforms with designs that harken to the battlefield.

    So for me, it is invigorating to see Kaepernick, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Maya Moore and a few other athletes with access to that stage not just allow themselves to be used by it. It is empowering to see them appropriate it for those from the communities from which they came whose voices are muted by lack of money, the power it grants and access.

    The narrative of sport as a catapult for an athlete from a lower economic class to a higher one, which those of us in the media regurgitate from those who control sport, isn’t just trite; it is dangerous. For it suggests that the most attainable change that can come from sports is for the individual and not a group.

    But if sport is also a boost for societal and political change, as has been touted most prominently by the story of Jackie Robinson (the part where he turns the other cheek to racial slights rather than confronts it head-on as he did in the army), then what Kaepernick is saying is to be listened to rather than ignored.

    Kevin B. Blackistone, ESPN panelist and visiting professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, writes sports commentary for the Post.

  17. This has happened before in history the oppressed being killed unfairly, unjust rules imposed, systematic control to take away freedom. Do you know what the solution was then? It wasn’t to blame the oppressor, it wasn’t to make sure the oppressor knew they “were wrong”, it wasn’t enough to just complain and get as many people to notice. The only way to fix it was for the oppressed to gain their freedom and independence THEMSELVES.

    I am referring to America against the British in the 1700s. Of course slavery could be brought up but the divide and rule was so powerful it eliminated any means to unite. But both of these events happened generations ago. We don’t blame Britain for our problems now, neither should people of color blame oppression from many years ago. Complain all you want, garner recognition all you want but change is in the hands of the “oppressed” and they are the only ones who can succeed. Nobody is going to fix a community except the community itself. Just like it has been proven time and time again throughout history. White man is not the ones stopping this from happening and you are delusional (or uneducated) if you think otherwise.

  18. Don’t know of this will interest anyone any more in this discussion, but I came across this story this morning.

    Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins says team will likely protest during national anthem on Monday

    Football fans can expect to see another protest during the national anthem on Monday Night Football when the Philadelphia Eagles meet the Chicago Bears. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins gave the head’s up this weekend during an interview on Philadelphia’s Sportsradio 94WIP, a CBS affiliate.

    Jenkins said the team talked about doing something last Sunday, when the Eagles beat the Cleveland Browns, 29-10, but ultimately decided to wait.

    “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t do anything to take away from the families that suffered from 9/11,” Jenkins said about the Sunday game, which coincided with the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. “We didn’t want to mess with that day, so we left last week alone. But moving forward, I’m sure there will be guys that will probably join in.”

    Jenkins said fans shouldn’t expect to see anyone kneeling, however, as Colin Kaepernick first did earlier this month and others have followed, including Kaepernick’s 49ers teammate Eric Reid and Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.

    “I doubt that we’ll have anybody kneeling,” he said, noting the team remains undecided about what to do.

    “There’s been conversations that we’ve had of, what do we want to do? Do we want to do something as a team or as individuals?” Jenkins said. “And I think that’s still being discussed.”

    What’s already for certain, however, is why Jenkins and others want to protest.

    “For me, it has nothing to do with this country or the flag or the anthem in itself,” he said. “Really it’s just to continue to push forward the conversation about social injustice, and that’s a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities, education. There’s just a lot of things systematically that have been set up in this country since its inception that put minorities, especially African Americans, at a disadvantage when you talk about quality of life and actually growing in this country.” …

  19. Buffalo Dean preaches the protest

    September 27, 2016 /

    The Interim Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, is making news for his choice of vestment for this Sunday’s sermon. The Very Reverend Will Mebane wore a Colin Kaepernick football jersey to preach a sermon titled “Wake up or face eternal damnation.”

    TWC news reported,

    It’s something you don’t see at your average Sunday mass.

    Rev. Will Mebane, dean of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral wore the jersey of San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick at Sunday morning’s mass.

    He wore it in support of Kaepernick’s recent protest.

    Kaepernick’s been kneeling during the national anthem before his team’s games as a sign of protest against police violence and racial oppression in the United States.

    Sunday’s mass focused on the recent circumstances surrounding the deaths of unarmed black men by police offers.
    Citing the prophet Amos’ indictment of those indifferent to the suffering of the nation, Mebane said,

    It is out of concern for our nation, and frankly for our souls, that I have chosen to wear this jersey today. …

    This is really at the crux of things for me: There seems to be more … public outrage about a black man kneeling instead of standing for the National Anthem than there is outrage about the number of black women and men being killed by members of our police forces with seeming impunity.

    Hear Mebane’s sermon here.

    How have you heard recent events related in your parish?

  20. Many veterans support his way of protesting, too.. What, in your opinion, is the proper venue or method of protest? Would you share what you have personally done to combat racism?

    • Let’s face the facts

      Black people march in peaceful protest: white racist people get mad.

      Black people sit down in peaceful protest of segregation laws: white racists get mad.

      Black people speak up, white racists get mad.

      Black people die: white racists are silent.

  21. When I was in grammar and high school, we had no choices about reciting the pledge of allegiance (even before “so help me God” was added or hearing the Bible read and praying the Lord’s Prayer. While I am and have always been a follower of Jesus Christ, this was always wrong.

    Those who say they fought for our freedoms also fought for our freedom to not do those things, in response to our own consciences. We are hypocrites when we decry the actions of those who engage in peaceful protests. I’m an older white male who is also gay. I’m still not entitled to all the protections guaranteed to straight white people, so I get what this is about. I can be fired for being gay. If I rented I can be kicked out because I am gay….etc. etc. No one is free until all are free, as I believer Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once told us.

  22. “They have the right to protest, but it doesn’t belong at a lunch counter.”

    “They have the right to protest, but it doesn’t belong in the streets blocking traffic.”

    “They have the right to protest, but it doesn’t belong at a sporting event.”

    Me: Just admit you don’t believe certain people have the right to protest.

  23. Quick question: If Kaepernik had said he was protesting the treatment of the veterans after they return from combat, would his protest choice be okay? Just curious.

  24. I find it odd that you will support his decision to protest the way he chose to but not my right to disagree… I recognize his right to do so but choose to disagree with it… I don’t care that he is black… And the fact that you make a point of making that an issue … Makes you the racist not me… I would disagree if he was white, black, yellow or freaking purple… I choose to exercise my right to disagree with anyone who chooses to disrespect the flag… I do however recognize his right to do so. Once again those in the media, be it television, news paper or bloggers choose to boost ratings by making it a racial issue when nothing could be further from the truth. We my decision based on race… NO.. Do I believe most Americans who disagree based in on race…NO. Do I recognize that there re groups or individuals that did…YES. However by lumping us all together calling it White this or white that is by the very definition of racist.

  25. I’m fine with what he did, and how he did it. I wouldn’t have done it the same way, but I’m not seeing anything he did that was wrong, or inappropriate. I would’ve gone out on the field, stood with the team, kept my hand down, and turned away from the flag, silently while everyone else did their thing.
    I’ve pretty much always done that – I don’t pledge allegiance to inanimate objects; it’s contrived and silly to me, no matter what those objects represent.

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