Social Influence of Kaepernick's Actions During the National Anthem

This is kneeling during the national anthem essay. In August of 2016, Colin Kaepernick began his social justice protest during the National Anthem. Kaepernick began sitting down during the National Anthem to symbolize the oppression people of color have faced and are still facing. He did not gain attention until a photo was released of him sitting down. 

Kaepernick stated that he would continue sitting down until the oppression of colored people ended. He explained that he is against the systematic oppression and the unjustified deaths surrounding colored people. Kaepernick clarified that he was not disrespecting the women and men who have fought and still are fighting for this country. He wants this country to hold people accountable for the mistreatment and deaths of colored people. However, a month later, in September, it was suggested by Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret, that Kaepernick should start kneeling during the Anthem. As a sign of respect, Kaepernick used that suggestion and began kneeling. 

Kaepernick gained attraction from NFL players, NBA players, soccer players, and the President. Kaepernick had many players from each league and high school sports teams supporting him. One player in particular, Eric Reid, began kneeling with him, which also caused him the same consequences as Kaepernick. I support Kaepernick’s thoughts on social injustice, gun violence, and the systematic oppression of people of color. There are many instances where innocent people of color are gunned down or suffer from police brutality. For example, Trayvon Martin, a young, innocent, African American was gunned down for looking “suspicious”. Martin was walking through a neighborhood with his hoodie on and was profiled by a neighborhood watch man named George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was told not to follow Martin but disregarded the instructions any way. Later that night Martin was shot by Zimmerman in “self-defense”. 

This incident was the first of many that sparked the “Black Lives Matter” Movement. There are many more cases where policemen and bystanders that get involved are acquitted for injuring or killing the suspects of color. Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem has the world talking about subjects that are difficult for many people to understand. I support Kaepernick because he not only challenged his endorsement deals, but he did not mind giving up his NFL contract or wealth at the expense of his protest. I do not believe that Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag by kneeling down. I believe that the individuals who are focusing on him kneeling are disregarding his message or do not want the issue to be publicized. I support his thoughts because he has reached out too many groups dealing with gun violence and police brutality. He has advocated for their accomplishments and their abilities to push boundaries. I support Kaepernick’s thoughts because he wants to empower individuals, create change, and be the individual that starts the change. That despite the setbacks that Kaepernick has encountered he did not let that defeat him in protesting and spreading his message. I believe the issues Kaepernick is fighting for are societal injustices. Systematic oppression, racial inequality, police brutality and more are issues that have plagued this country for centuries. He continues to fight for individuals without a voice by starting conversations that are uncomfortable to talk about. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Carlos Delgado are two of the few sports icons that have opted out of participating in a patriotic song. 

Similar to Kaepernick, Abdul-Rauf was excluded from one game because of his beliefs. Celebrities who put their careers, wealth, and endorsements on the line to make a statement are trying to attract viewers to important subjects that often get dismissed. Another societal injustice is Kaepernick opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers. If Kaepernick did not opt out of his contract, they were going to release him from the team. Kaepernick caused too many conflicts within the league by making bold statements and actions. Since Kaepernick did not abide by the NFL’s guidelines they were going to unfairly dismiss him from the league. Therefore, he did not have much of an option to become a free agent. This is a societal injustice because the NFL cares more about money than justice for colored people. They would rather support people of color on an NFL team than support them off the field protesting for their rights. The NFL supports people when it becomes beneficial for them and that is one of the many issues surrounding the league. However, a societal justice that has happened to Kaepernick is his huge endorsement deal with Nike. In September of 2018, Nike decided to use Kaepernick as the face of their “Just Do It,” campaign. It is a societal justice because Kaepernick was a free agent for two years and Nike still used him in their campaign. Nike was not afraid of their stocks decreasing because they believed that Kaepernick’s message was important. Nevertheless, this caused an outrage with some individuals, causing them to boycott and burn their Nike gear. This is an issue because people are not understanding the message Kaepernick is trying to convey. They are shifting their focus to Nike supporting an individual who is “disrespecting” the flag instead of comprehending the message. Systematic oppression, racial injustice, police brutality, gun violence, and more are issues that will take years to reverse. However, people can start preventing these issues by sitting down and talking about it. These issues can be prevented by having individuals willing to understand the history and significance oppression has caused for people of color. To prevent these issues people cannot be defensive and ready to challenge every statement expressed by people of color. These concerns can be prevented by stopping the deaths of colored people by correctly identifying them, not being hostile at the beginning of each situation, and treating them like human beings. The justice system needs to start holding police officers and involved bystanders accountable for harming or killing suspects of color. In order to prevent this issue in the future, the leagues can start supporting their players instead of suspending them and keeping them off the field. Instead of releasing their players the leagues need to acknowledge the issues rising. The leagues can listen and understand their players before punishing them and causing them to lose out on opportunities. These sports divisions have so much power to vocalize influential messages, yet they penalize their players for standing up for problems that include a significant part of the world. Another way these issues can be prevented is by having the President of the United States support the issues concerning people of color. The President has voiced several negative statements about players kneeling during the anthem. He has wanted the NFL owners and coaches to remove the players off the field because of their protests. 

Instead of displaying negative images of the players, the President should be encouraging others to recognize the issues they are protesting for. The President is keeping his focus on Kaepernick “disrespecting” the flag instead of understanding the message behind it. An additional way to prevent these concerns are having people acknowledge their privilege and using it to defend people that do not have many. There are many instances where people of privilege are not profiled because of the way they look or dress. Whereas people of color are constantly profiled because of the color of their skin. We can prevent these issues by stopping individuals from protesting “All Lives Matter,” and helping with the “Black Lives Matter,” movement. They need to recognize that people protesting, “Black Lives Matter,” are not trying to disregard everyone else, but are trying to emphasize that black lives are a part of all lives, and they should be treated fairly like the rest. The “Black Lives Matter” protest stresses the significance of the inequality and the injustice they face compared to every other race. People with privilege need to understand that no one is trying to attack them, but simply trying to inform them on the many issues surrounding people of color. In conclusion, while Kaepernick lost his NFL career and some endorsement deals he continues to fight for social justice, racial equality, and more. 

Despite the minor obstacles, Kaepernick has made significant comebacks and progress with the movement. A significant comeback is Nike, a huge sports company endorsing and supporting his actions. He is challenging America by pushing the boundaries needed to make a difference. By kneeling during the National Anthem, Kaepernick has caused a massive wave of individuals conversing about topics that are difficult to talk about. Kaepernick has started the process of creating change by donating and getting involved in organizations dealing with gun violence and police brutality. He is getting America to acknowledge the importance of social justice and racial equality for people of color. As well as recognizing the oppression that currently still affects people of color. To keep this process successful, we as a collective need to encourage others to get involved with different movements. We need to see the change, start the change, and be the change.

05 January 2023
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