Athlete of The Week: Colin Kaepernick

By Dominick J Fils-Aimé | August 29, 2016

The San Francisco 49ner’s Colin Kaepernick has come under scrutiny after his selfless protest against police abuse. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the former star quarterback exercised his first amendment rights by opting to remain seated during the playing of the national anthem throughout the preseason.

Asked about the decision, the former 2nd round pick said, “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.”

Despite the reasoning behind the second string quarterbacks protest, many fans, talking heads, patriots and social justice warriors alike have been quick to reprimand Kaepernick for his lack of patriotism. Some members of 9ner nation have even chose to express their outrage by sharing videos of them symbolically setting the quarterback ‘ s #7 jersey ablaze, apparently opting to interpret his message of anti police misconduct as an accusation against all of law enforcement officers.

Even more troubling, the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) have gone as far as penning a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, calling on the league to denounce the professional athletes “foolish” statements.

“The law enforcement community cannot be continuously blamed for all of society’s problems, including racial divide, in our country. It isn’t fair and it isn’t true,” said SFPOA president Martin Halloran, as if anyone reputable would espouse such a dense narrative.

” Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”

Lacks any factual basis? Oh really? The funny thing about statements and opinions that a lot of people seem to be unaware of is that….they are relative, and relative to some, Mr. Halloran is the fool embarrassing himself.

It isn’t as if we haven’t been using our crazy eyes to view clip after clip of unarmed African American being fatally shot by police over the last two years. It might also be the number of killings, and assaults of unarmed blacks at the hands of police prior to the the smartphone era, including the likes of Sean Bell, Amadou Diablo, and the recorded beat down of the late Rodney King that have also functioned to misinform the public about police culture. Maybe the fact that many of our nation’s earliest police departments began as slave patrols contributes to the divisive relationship between people of color and law enforcement. Or maybe the strained relationship between the black community and police deteriorated after police departments nationwide were employed to enforce apartheid and segregation for decades. Or maybe it’s the lack of understanding, cooperation, and leadership illustrated by law enforcement leaders. Ugh, the misinformation. But let’s look at the facts.

First, more white people have been killed by police officers in the United States than black people. With that being said, The United States has 121 million more citizens of caucasian descent than those who trace their lineage to Africa or the west indies. Furthermore, according to The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an organization concerned with police brutality and judicial reform, an African American is killed every 28 hours by law enforcement, vigilantes or security guards. Additionally, 44% of those killed are unarmed, while in 27% of these cases police claimed the deceased was armed, despite the evidence not corroborating the alleged.

Evidence of racially biased policing can also be illustrated by instances of racial profiling. According to The Stop Mass Incarceration Network,

African-American and Latino men are disproportionately stopped and harassed by police officers per stop and frisk, with 90 percent of stops yielding no results.

The mass incarceration of people of color that followed the failed ‘War on Drugs’ also illustrates a racial bias associated with policing and judicial review as 40% of the United States prison population is represented by African Americans, despite black people only making up 13% of the population.

With nearly 80 percent of those jailed being convicted on drug violations, not violent crimes, making the “maybe blacks create more crimes, so that’s why there are more in jail” argument. Despite reports suggesting that whites and blacks sell and consume drugs at similar rates, people of color are nearly 6x more likely to be arrested in relation to drugs than their white counterparts. Blacks offenders statistically are also found to be subject to more severe sentences than whites. Lastly, african americans are 21x more likely to be shot by police, further validating the sentiments of the 9ner quarterback who may have sacrificed his well being to stand up for the rights of minorities.

In short, it isn’t misinformation creating a false narrative of racially biased practices within our nation’s police departments and courtrooms, it’s the police and our judges. In choosing not to stand for the hypocrisy embedded within the lines of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, Kaepernick was not disrespecting our troops, just because you say so, nor was he making a blanket statement implying all cops are evil racist anxious to gun down men of a darker hue. His 1st amendment exercise was simply meant to bring awareness to the fact that minorities don’t appear to be offered the same protection under the 4th and 14th amendment. Those who say that he disrespected those who serve our great, but divisive nation, might find it more enlightening to apply that same level of patriotism to acknowledge the hypocrisy of argueing that our brave soldiers are dying for freedoms that many people of color are not being afforded.

Ultimately, Kaepernick’s continued act of civil disobedience functions to bring awareness to the disproportionate burden of assumptions that force people of color to be subject to a constant state of anxiety. Interestingly enough, Kaepernick’s protest has sparked more debate about respect and reverence to our nation’s banner, police and the military than……..police brutality. Much like the ways in which the talking heads criticize the methods of civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter as opposed to discussing the grievances expressed. White supremacy is still a motherfucker.


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