News & Politics

NFL's Colin Kaepernick Refuses to Stand for National Anthem Citing 'Oppressed' Black People

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick answers questions at a news conference after an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won the game 21-10. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Colin Kaepernick, starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, was seen on the sideline before Friday’s preseason game sitting down while the National Anthem was being played.

In an interview with NFL.com, Kaepernick explained his position:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “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.”

The 49ers issued a statement about Kaepernick’s decision: “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

Kaepernick stressed that the decision was his and that he didn’t feel the need to run the idea by anyone:

“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Kaepernick said that he has thought about going public with his feelings for a while but that “I felt that I needed to understand the situation better.”

He said that he has discussed his feelings with his family and, after months of witnessing some of the civil unrest in the U.S., decided to be more active and involved in rights for black people. Kaepernick, who is biracial, was adopted and raised by white parents and siblings.

Kaepernick’s Twitter feed is filled with civil rights messages.

The former Super Bowl starting quarterback’s decision to go public comes while he is fighting for his football life with the 49ers, who drafted him in the second round in 2011. He lost his starting job last season after being one of the most promising players in the NFL during his run under former coach Jim Harbaugh.

Over the past few months, his relationship with management has turned sour. He requested a trade last spring, which never came. He also has spent most of the offseason rehabilitating from operations to his left (non-throwing) shoulder, his hand and knee. His recovery left him unable to fully compete with Blaine Gabbert for months and has him seemingly in a bind to regain his starting job.

Certainly Kaepernick has a perfect right to be an idiot. It is unfortunate he has no idea of the real meaning of “oppression.” Real oppression is standing up and saying you’re oppressed and then being taken out back and executed.

Black Lives Matter partisans will claim that’s exactly what’s happening: executions by police of black men. So why stop at executing so few black people? If blacks are being “oppressed” and systematically being killed by whites, why not line them up against a wall and start shooting? The notion that a significant number of the 46 million blacks who live in the U.S. are in danger of being executed is ludicrous. And if they’re killed at all, the chances are overwhelming that they will die at the hands of another black person—not whites or the police.

By characterizing racism, bigotry, and ignorance by whites as “oppression,” Kaepernick is disrespecting thousands around the world who are actually being oppressed and risking their very lives in standing up and shouting it from the rooftops.

All Kaepernick appears to be risking is a career playing a kids game.