By JEFF MACKLER
San Francisco 49er superstar quarterback Colin Kaepernick roiled the racist establishment when he “took a knee” rather than stand and salute the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem on Aug. 26 before the 49ers final pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers. This was the fourth time, but the first in uniform during this year’s pre-season games, that Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season and to the N.F.C. championship game in 2013, refused to stand.
Kaepernick, who is biracial, said during a post-game media conference, “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.”
After recovering from several injuries and three surgeries since 2014, Kaepernick will likely be the 49ers’ back-up quarterback as the 2016 season begins.
Kaepernick has been pilloried by racist bigots across the country but has also received wide support among 49er fans and social justice activists. He was joined in his refusal to stand by 49er teammate Eric Reid. The following week, Seattle Seahawk cornerback Jeremy Lane, similarly refused to stand during the National Anthem in order to “stand beside” Kaepernick.
Megan Rapinoe, one of America’s most prominent female soccer players, also knelt during a National Women’s Soccer League match a few days later stating that she was “disgusted by how Kaepernick has been treated” and would continue to kneel throughout the season.”
In an article entitled, “Insulting Colin Kaepernick says more about our patriotism than his,” the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar aptly noted: “What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the National Anthem, but that nearly 50 years after Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.”
Jeff Mackler is Socialist Action’s candidate for U.S. president in 2016.