Defending Colin Kaepernick: calling America’s racism into question


The national sports community has been rocked by the actions of  San Fransisco 49er’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, after he opted to sit down during the national anthem at the team’s last preseason game. After interviews, it was revealed Kaepernick had been protesting the recent instances of police-related killings of young, black males. Even though the overall reaction to Kaepernick’s demonstration has been largely negative, many other players and commentators in the sports community stand by him, saying that his beliefs are valid concerns and defend his form of protest.

Personally, I do not believe that refusing to support a flag is the same thing as condemning the actions of the brave military men and women who have fought on our behalf. In fact, many veterans have come to stand behind Kaepernick, saying that he has brought a new interest in the mistreatment of our armed forces once they return from service. 

However, many sports fans were not nearly as supportive and have taken to criticizing his protest as anti-military or anti-veteran. 

What is interesting to me is that, despite him blatantly stating that his protest was about racial inequality in the United States, many people instantly accused him of  anti-American qualities. Is this simply for bringing our country’s inherent racism into question?

It is no secret that over the past couple of years, the racial tensions in the U.S. have ignited. With the influence and spotlight provided by our nation’s focus on football, Kaepernick has brought to attention not only racial injustice, but also America’s views on what it means to be a “good American.” 

Does one’s patriotism really depend on their trust in the government to handle domestic affairs? 

If so, should we doubt the dedication of those whom question the president’s decisions? 

It hardly seems fair to either side to immediately assume that dissatisfaction with government is equivalent to being anti-American. With former fans burning his jersey, accusing him of disrespecting veterans and petitioning for San Francisco to drop him as a quarterback, Kaepernick felt it necessary to clarify the rhetoric behind his decision to sit down during the anthem: 

“I think it’s a misunderstanding,” Kaepernick said. “The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti men and women of the military, and that’s not the case at all. I realize that men and women of the military put themselves in harm’s way for my freedoms of speech and my freedom in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee. I have the utmost respect for them.”

After this whole ordeal, Kaepernick has actually taken responsibility for the movement he claims to support by pledging to donate the first million dollars to both veterans and neighborhoods that have been affected by both crime and police brutality.

So in my mind, I sincerely doubt that he ever intended to offend service men and women.

Benjamin M. Hummel is an English and speech & communications major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].