I can't deny it. When Colin Kaepernick sat through the National Anthem in protest of what he says is against the oppression of people of color in America, I was pissed off. No matter what issues we have had with the government in the United States, the flag still stands above all of that to me.
However, now I realize the angry response was an unintentional byproduct of what he was truly trying to do. It was only meant to start a discussion, which it definitely has done. The discussion it started also caused a lot of people to become very angry at his perceived disrespect to servicemen and the country, but it also accomplished getting the entire nation discussing this controversial issue.
Despite the visceral response, Colin Kaepernick did exactly what he wanted to do. He got a lot more than he bargained for actually because the entire country has been discussing this for days now. I still don't agree with sitting during the National Anthem, but now Kaepernick has gone in depth in explaining his actions that make it far more understandable for the point he is making.
"It's something that I've seen, I've felt, wasn't quite sure how to deal with originally. And it is something that's evolved. It's something that as I've gained more knowledge about, what's gone in this country in the past, what's going on currently. These aren't new situations. This isn't new ground. There are things that have gone on in this country for years and years and have never been addressed, and they need to be."
What makes so many people so angry about this is that they think it is disrespectful to the people of the military who have sacrificed so much for that flag. People have sacrificed their lives, their health, their families, their everything and that is what many think of when they hear the National Anthem. It's interesting to note that our own Levi Damien is a NAVY veteran though, and he tweeted that he doesn't see it that way at all.
Speaking as a veteran, Colin Kaepernick did not disrespect me or those who died for this country. Our service was so he may have that right.— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) August 28, 2016
That is a striking point from a veteran who did serve our country. Whether we agree with Kaepernick's choice of protest, it is exactly the type of thing that our country allows when so many others do not. It is the very expression of freedom that so many servicemen signed up to defend and so many have died for. Ironically, the outrage so many people feel is at someone practicing the very freedom that our country was founded upon.
Kaepernick understands that frustration though and wants people to know that it was never an intention to disrespect the military. He respects the people that serve the country, however his protest is because he believes the reasonings behind many servicemen defending our country are not being honored by the government they serve.
"I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country." Kaepernick clarified in his interview about the protest. "I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That's not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn't holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That's something that's not happening. I've seen videos, I've seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they have fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That's not right."
A full transcript of his interview with NFL.com's Steve Wyche is linked down below and it's very much worth a read. Many people are going to agree with what he is saying and many people are going to hate it, but it's still very much worth reading for a better understanding of the protest.
One of the truly eye opening statements that he made was about his own experience being racially profiled in college. His roommate was moving out of their house in a predominantly white neighborhood, and someone in that neighborhood called the police when they saw a black man moving stuff out of a house. I can certainly understand an experience like that having a life long impact on you.
"Yes, multiple times. I've had times where one of my roommates was moving out of the house in college and because we were the only black people in that neighborhood the cops got called and we had guns drawn on us." Kaepernick recalled when asked if he's had any bad experiences personally. "Came in the house, without knocking, guns drawn on my teammates and roommates. So I have experienced this. People close to me have experienced this. This isn't something that's a one-off case here or a one-off case there. This has become habitual. This has become a habit. So this is something that needs to be addressed."
I understand what Kaepernick is ultimately trying to protest, even though I don't like the way that he has voiced his protest. However, even if he angered many people it did exactly what he intended to do by starting such a massive national discussion. I don't like that he sat during the anthem, but I do respect his right to do so. Whether I personally like it or not, it doesn't change that protests like this are actually the very essence of America ironically.
Transcript: Colin Kaepernick addresses sitting during national anthem | Niners Wire
A transcript from Sunday when Colin Kaepernick addresses sitting during national anthem for the first time since Friday.
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