I admire Colin Kaepernick which you probably know if you listen to my radio show. He is the Muhammad Ali of the 21st century. A sportsperson who stands up, or rather kneels for what he believes. Kaepernick [Kap] knelt instead of standing during the American National Anthem 13 months ago and continued doing so. Kap was protesting at the brutality of the American police toward black people and people of colour. That is his right under the First Amendment. Except for President Trump and white people don’t think Kaepernick has a right to protest. You see in Trump’s America, it’s okay for white supremacists to protest, even kill a woman. But not for a black man to protest. So Kap remains unsigned but Trump has raised Kap’s game.
White NFL Overlords
The quarterback is the most prestigious position in American football and was the preserve of white players. It was Kap’s position with the 49er’s until he opted out in March 2016. He is one of the best in the game so his lack of a signing is not due to inability. It’s good old fashion racism in sport.
Fans of the game are predominately white, male, conservative and old. So, when Kap’s says ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour’, it’s unpopular. And executives of the game consider him ‘An embarrassment to football’.
Around 70% of NFL players are black, yet none of the 32 franchises are owned by a black person. Just two are owned by non-whites.
‘Get that son of a bitch off the field’
So when Trump says ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field’ (video below) he is not only talking directly to fans of the game but the NFL owners. They, like many fans, are also Trump supporters. Stan Kroenke of Arsenal is one of several NFL owners who gave financial contributions to Trump.
Back in March Trump was bragging that ‘NFL owners don’t want to pick [Colin Kaepernick] up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump’. The NFL is sidelining Kap but not just because of Trump’s tweet threats.
The NFL is making an example of Kap. By not signing him, they are sending other players a message to ‘toe the line’. But that means they are exercising a control that would deny a player their constitutional rights. And that’s wrong as well as dangerous for every citizen. I don’t understand why it is necessary to play the national anthem before a game. But an NFL stadium should not be a testing ground for patriotism or constitutional rights
Trump said ‘If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, [they] should not be allowed to disrespect [the] American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem.’ Or be ‘Fired.’
Interesting words from one privileged to be President. Trump has been allowed to disrespect women, American military heroes taken prisoner, non-white people including veterans, and the very office he represents. It is not presidential to describe black athletes as ‘Sons of bitches’. Yet the audience in Alabama applauded Trump like their lives depended on it.
Kaepernick Brings Us To Kneel
But as much as Trump’s words brought joy in Huntsville, Alabama, it has created a backlash. And instead of Trump scaring teams into line with his speech, more players have knelt during the anthem. Teams like Cleveland Browns players have joined the women of the WNBA in Indiana where the Fever and Phoenix Mercury teams already kneel for the anthem. Several Miami Dolphins wore black T-shirts supporting Kaepernick before facing the New York Jets whose owner is a Trump supporter. And the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to stay in the tunnel. Even the team managers are now openly supporting the rights of their players to protest.
Now it has spread beyond American football. In baseball, Oakland’s Bruce Maxwell kneeled, in Detroit, the national anthem singer ended on one knee and raised fist and Superstar Stevie Wonder also took to his knees during his performance at New York music festival. Trump’s racist attack has spread the cause and made Colin Kaepernick victorious.
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Trump On The War Path With Black Athletes
— The Columbia Bugle (@ColumbiaBugle) September 23, 2017
National Anthem In Detroit Ends On One Knee
The national anthem in Detroit ended on one knee pic.twitter.com/7Fi3wSjHSb
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 24, 2017