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On Friday, Colin Kaepernick took a stand against racism and systemic oppression – by sitting.
Following in the footsteps of a number of athletes, musicians and other public figures using their stardom to draw attention to the ongoing race-based violence and discrimination in the United States, Kaepernick sat while the national anthem played before Friday night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.
In defense of this act, he stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
With this silent, nonviolent protest against the violence and discrimination against black people in the United States – Kaepernick simultaneously enraged racist America, disappointed progressive America and validated the rest of us fighting against oppression in the United States.
Alex Boone of the Minnesota Vikings was one of the first of Kaepernick’s colleagues to speak out against him. He told USA Today, “It’s hard for me, because my brother was a Marine, and he lost a lot of friends over there. That flag obviously gives (Kaepernick) the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some (expletive) respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom.”
In his public denouncement, Boone relied on of the most commonly used arguments against Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest: Staying seated during the national anthem is disrespectful to our veterans.
While this argument is getting a lot of media attention from the conservative right, there are many veterans that also support Kaepernick’s stance. As reported by ESPN, “Of the tweets that we’re getting from military and former military people, definitely the majority are saying he has every right to do what he’s doing, and that’s exactly what we fought for. You may not like it, but he has every right to do that.”