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San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Refuses to Honor Flag

courtesy of Colin Kaepernick, @kaepernick7 on Instagram

courtesy of Colin Kaepernick, @kaepernick7 on Instagram

Vince Tobin, Writer

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During a preseason football game last month, professional quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers ignited a major controversy by refusing to stand up during the national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said during an interview with Steve Wyche from NFL.com.

A big issue in the midst of this celebrity protest is the confusion on what exactly Kaepernick was protesting. Anti-military, anti-cop, and pro-Islam are just a few of the accusations stemming from this protest that Kaepernick says is strictly to raise awareness for oppression of minorities and people of color. Others view him as a hypocrite due to not only his protest against the symbol of America, but also his $114 million dollar contract with the 49ers that he has been so fortunate to obtain and the fact that he was adopted by wealthy white parents.

This is not the only protest that has raised awareness from within the NFL. Players from the St. Louis, now Los Angeles Rams showed the popular “hands-up” position during a game to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. At this year’s Super Bowl, Pop icon Beyonce had a Black Panthers-themed performance.

These protests come in wake of the widespread concern of the police and the African American community. Michael Brown, Philando Castille, and Alton Sterling are just a few that have died at the hands of police officers and caused mass protests across the United States. The controversial Black Lives Matter movement started in response to the shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back in 2013, with the simple hashtag, “BlackLivesMatter”.

Many celebrities, politicians, and professional athletes are in support of the movement and have voiced their opinions of police brutality and misconduct through the media just as Kaepernick has.

The NFL and the 49ers have released statements supporting Kaepernick’s decision, stating that they support his freedom of expression. However, many people, some even former fans of Kaepernick, are criticizing him for his decision. Videos trending on Twitter and Facebook show people burning Kaepernick’s jersey while the national anthem is playing in spite of his decision.

Kaepernick’s protest antics have recently changed due to the major backlash and confusion from sitting at previous games. In the games against the Chargers, Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem instead. He was also seen before the game wearing socks that had pigs wearing police hats, as well as wearing a Malcom X hat and a Fidel Castro t-shirt to a recent press release.

Kaepernick said in his press release following Thursday night’s game that his change in protest was supported and thought of by fellow 49ers player Eric Reid and former Green Beret Nate Boyer. He also stated in the press release that it was to “try and show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country.” In efforts to show the world he is not anti-American, the football star plans to donate his first $1 million dollars made this season to organizations that work with communities, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.

Every citizen in this country has the freedom of speech and freedom of expression. What you choose to say in certain situations will result in different consequences as we can plainly see with Colin Kaepernick. Although his choice to speak out against the oppression of minorities was in a situation that caused a lot of confusion, it is his right as an American to speak his mind on whatever topics he deemed necessary.

He may be a multi-million dollar athlete with white parents and may not have been involved with any conflict because of his race, but should that stop Colin Kaepernick from voicing his opinion? Absolutely not.

It takes more than just the victims of a problem to fix a problem. He was bold to give such a statement, regardless of the situation. He was apologetic towards the people he might have offended, and even honorable enough to change his protesting for the men and women who give their lives for our freedom.

Kaepernick’s decision was not a mistake, but an ethical dilemma. Some people think that his protest was right while others find it disrespectful or wrong to protest during the national anthem, when in reality there is no clear right and wrong. It all boils down to your own opinion.

However, people should stop thinking about if it’s right or wrong and address the situation that he is protesting, so that if there is a problem, it can be dealt with, solved, and we can all move on like adults. Even President Obama said in a news conference at the G20 summit in China, “But my understanding, at least, is that is he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so.”

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San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Refuses to Honor Flag