(Yahoo) — Colin Kaepernick took a knee for Thursday’s national anthem, arms folded, expressionless. This time, he had company. He was joined by one of his teammates, and a Seattle Seahawks player a few hours up the California coast who was protesting as well.
“I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this,” Kaepernick said. “I want to make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from. And those conversations are important to have, because the better we understand each other, the better we know each other, the better we can deal and communicate with each other, which ultimately puts everybody in a better position.”
Kaepernick said it was “disappointing” that the message of his protest was lost in the debate about everything else surrounding it in the past week.
“I think that’s something that’s hard for this country to address, and that’s what the real issues are and coming to the point where we can admit these are issues,” Kaepernick said after the game. “Once we admit that, we can deal with it, we can fix them and we can make this country and these communities a better place.”
Kaepernick said he was planning to continue to speak out and take action as well. He said he’d donate the first $1 million he’d make this season to “help these communities and help these people.”
When I first heard that Colin Kaepernick sat for the anthem I think my gut reaction was the same as a majority of people’s: fuck that guy. It’s kinda how we do things in 2016: we see a tweet, have a gut reaction, make our stand, pour cement around ourselves to make sure we don’t budge, and hurl insults at the people who disagree with us. But, I’ve actually listened as the week’s gone on. I’ve paid attention to what Kaep has said, I’ve heard him out, and after tonight it’s pretty fucking impossible to disagree with the guy.
For starters, Kaepernick went out of his way to invite Nate Boyer, the former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawk who wrote him an open letter about his protest, to talk to him, to hear his side of the story, to get advice, and ultimately, to meet in the middle (the kneeling was Boyer’s idea). Kaepernick’s message obviously got lost in the action last week (though I must ask, when did the pre-game national anthem become strictly about the military? I’ve never stood in the stands pre-game, hand over my heart, and exclusively thought about the troops while the anthem was sung. I think about America as a whole, those are the images being portrayed on the jumbotrons afterall. Feel like most people do that so I’m not sure how sitting became only an anti-military conversation.) But I digress, what I’m trying to say is that Kaepernick is willing to hear the opinions of others. He’s willing to work on his problems, and fix them so as to be as respectful as possible while still getting his message out. That’s commendable. That’s very commendable. So many people are yelling fuck Kaepernick but he’s willing to stand there, answer questions (he gave an exceptionally long press conference last night), and try to get better. I don’t him asking us to do the same is over the top.
The other big point of derision over the last week has been that Kaepernick is doing this selfishly. People said that he didn’t really care about the issues so he was doing it for attention, or to force a trade, and that it really wasn’t accomplishing anything at all. The protest wasn’t the same as action. First of all, that’s just flat out wrong. Kaepernick has been vocal about racial issues on social media for quite a while and the protest sparked a national debate that had absolutely everyone talking for the last week and shows no signs of slowing. Second, how’s a million dollars for action? How’s a million dollars for selfishness and attention whoring? Colin Kapernick ain’t exactly poor but a million bucks ain’t something to thumb your nose at either.
Read those quotes from last night and say you disagree with them. You really can’t. He wants to make America better, and it’s something he’s passionate about (most of the people who yell “Fuck Kaepernick!” are wearing hats that say in big letters “Make America Great Again,” so it’s hard for them to call him anti-American for that stance). He wants to facilitate conversation to help understand each other, know each other, and put everyone in a better position. He’s willing to meet with people who disagree with him and fucking listen to their sides of the story AND fix actions when he realizes he was in the wrong. He’s donating a million dollars to troubled communities to see that they have the help they need. This is a cause Colin Kaepernick is dedicated to.
I’m not saying I’m about to start kneeling for anthems, because I’m absolutely not, but we’re Booing and telling that guy to go fuck himself? We’re calling him anti-American because he just wants to make America better and is using his platform, and his wealth, to help achieve that? Pretty ridiculous. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you can read those quotes, read about that donation, watch the interview with Nate Boyer and still think Colin Kaepernick is the devil, then you just don’t want to acknowledge what he’s trying to get you to acknowledge and you don’t want to have the conversations he’s trying to get you to have.