Yazdani: Backing Colin Kaepernick is not unpatriotic

Americans reacted with both praise and condemnation when football quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner in 2016. Some critics labelled the footballer as “unpatriotic.” But there is nothing unpatriotic about Kaepernick.

Kaepernick told NFL Media that he would not “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick’s stance is admirable. The quarterback’s statements may have seemed charged, but unfortunately the U.S. is still experiencing racial inequality, such as with the several shootings of unarmed black men. Even though America has much to be proud of, there remains much with which to be disappointed. He explained that there are “bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The footballer’s time in the NFL may be gone, with the Seattle Seahawks postponing his workout. Nearly two years have elapsed since Kaepernick played in an NFL game, which may portend his bleak fate in football. The Seahawks’ move comes after Kaepernick declined to comment on his kneeling in the future.

The NFL’s decision to blacklist him reveals they fear the controversy he could stir, which is understandable. They may also hope to admonish any players who want to emulate Kaepernick. However, in doing this, the football league is inadvertently condoning racial oppression.

Some NFL fans have accused Kaepernick of being unpatriotic and in some cases, of treason. Yet, his refusal to stand during the national anthem only highlights his dissent with the nation’s current political climate.

If Kaepernick aims to protest racial oppression through kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL’s decision to discourage his protest stifles anti-racism progress. While the quarterback’s actions are only one series of events, the football league’s reaction displays how major institutions fear political change.

Nike unveiled its “Just Do It” campaign featuring Kaepernick on the cover, which read “believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Although anti-kneelers threatened to burn their Nike gear, the sportswear giant sold out 61 percent more of its products, according to the Thomson Reuters information firm.

They worry over how their fans will handle Kaepernick’s protest, but the NFL forgets about their minority fans. For the number of nationalists who burn their shoes in opposition to Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, there will be more fans who dissent with the football league’s dropping of Kaepernick.

If more people back him, then the racial issues in the US will begin to further unravel. And based on what we’ve seen with the “Just Do It” campaign, more people are backing him than ever before. For the sake of America’s betterment, Kaepernick’s actions should be regarded as nothing short of patriotic.

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Armand Yazdani

Armand Yazdani