DAR Sports: Colin Kaepernick, Veterans, and Racism in NFL

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-Certainly we here at DAR have been paying attention to the growing situation with Colin Kaepernick, the fallout and the reaction to it. I mean, how could we not? It's permeated the entire world and the entire landscape of America, calling into question the status quo and the standard within this country. We are currently a country divided, which in all fairness, is always the case. From the way we vote, to the teams we cheer for in the NFL, to the decisions we make, we are mostly usually divided as a nation. That's the reality that we somehow neglect in lieu of sporting events that require some form of fatigued patriotism. It's the reality that we somehow forget when someone challenges the line of thinking that the only way to live in America is by being a flag waving patriot.

I'm not "anti-America", nor am I "pro-America" either, I just happen to live here. Misguided is the notion that because I live here, I have to champion everything this country does. Hell, this country wouldn't champion everything I do. This country wouldn't champion everything any person of color does, so I'm supposed to champion this country no matter what? I watched the Olympics for a second and couldn't stomach it. The pageantry of walking into a local bar and seeing a ton of American flags on shirts and chants of "U-S-A" has never personally appealed to me. I respect anyone's right to be patriotic if that's what you so choose, but I also respect anyone's right NOT to be patriotic. The day I was born, I was given the right to choose my path and what I do and don't do. That choice was given to me by my mother and father, the two who created me. While I appreciate what America provides and the opportunities afforded, I have always felt we as a people give the country credit for ALLOWING us freedoms, versus the fact that we were born with the freedom to be and do what we choose. What WE choose. This brings me to my issue with this Colin Kaepernick situation.

Where is it stated that you have to stand for the National Anthem and put your hand on your heart or take off your hat or do anything of that nature? It's a custom that people have somehow adhered to, but where is it something that REALLY HAS to be done? It doesn't. If you believe in that anthem and feel patriotic, by all means, do what you like. If you are not patriotic or would like to protest the anthem silently by not standing or singing it, then by all means, do what you like. My point? You have the right to do so, regardless. The misconception to me is that you have to do this standing up for the anthem business because if you don't, it's disrespectful to the military. I have the utmost respect for the military, but the reality is this: standing up for the anthem or not standing up for it has no bearing on your opinion on the military. I don't associate that anthem with the military and I don't think a good amount of people do anyways to be fair. I see brave men and women who make the CHOICE to do what they see fit in the military. That's a very commendable and respectable profession and choice. I truly appreciate what those in the military do and what they bring to the table. I've never saw them as people fighting for my freedom, but that's another story for another day. The average person probably wouldn't understand what I mean anyways. Regardless, I just never looked at the national anthem and not standing for it as disrespectful. I have friends in the military and they don't always stand up for the anthem. They don't see a need honestly. And that's completely fine. They understand why I don't and at the few places that I've been where the anthem gets played, and they've been around, they might choose to stand up or not, but they would never invade my personal choice and tell me I should stand up.

And with that, what gives the American people the right to tell Kaepernick that he should stand up? See I've avoided the root of all this up until this point, but if I'm being honest, I've experienced something similar to Kaepernick. I'll explain. I was recently getting into the wrestling business and attended an event with about 4,000 people. It was 3 years ago. I sat down at the table with about a good 12 people from the company I had been working with, and the event started with the National anthem. As everyone rose up, they stood, took hats off, put hands over their hearts, and beamed with so much American pride. Good for them. I stayed seated. I was maybe only one of seven people that stayed seated. The other 6 seemingly were of a different race and presumably of a different religion based on attire (pardon me if I'm stereotyping somewhat, I'm just setting the scene). I was met with a lot of side eye looks and comments for refusing to stand up and partake in this festivity. I tend to block out this moment because it would be part of the reason why my time in the business in this manner wasn't very long. Here I was, the only black guy out of Baltimore, in North Carolina, amongst rednecks and extreme patriots and I just "disrespected" the country by not standing and supporting America, our military, and our "great nation". If things took a turn for the worse, I was outnumbered. Hell, I was alone. In a sea of thousands of people, I was alone and still didn't budge on what I felt. I dealt with arguments and discussions on what it means to stand and that you should stand for this or that. I still never stood for the anthem then for the 8 month tenure I had in the Carolinas. Now, I don't consider that a brave action, I just think if you don't believe in something or really adhere to it, that you have that right. Atheists don't believe in a God or anything of a higher power and make their opinion known whenever they see fit. Do I agree? Not really. But it is their choice and opinion to do so and voice it. It's everyone's right to express themselves or see fit to say or do what they choose, and even those who have criticized Kaepernick have that freedom to do so, but where this has gone is honestly sickening.

Racism in the NFL has always existed. It will likely always exist. Your favorite quarterback might be a huge Donald Trump supporter, and while he might dance to Migos for a second awkwardly, or play with black players, imagine his private thought process to support a mostly racist rhetoric in the campaign of Trump. The owners of the teams in some ways are certainly racist and they will continue to benefit off the hard work and earn off the players, both white and black. Now, I'm NOT just blindly screaming racism for the hell of it, these are things we know to be true and have witnessed. Even in something as severe as the Ray Rice domestic violence case, there's underlying racism within, which I won't elaborate here on. Remember Cam Newton just about a year ago? He became the premier QB in the league for the season, hustled his way to a MVP trophy, and stood firmly in the face of hate and racism. He was unabashedly southern, with hip hop flowing through his veins, and the reality of what he faced truly in his head. At a time where the nation was at odds over issues with racism and police brutality, Cam was winning games, getting touchdowns, and dabbing on them folks. When he started winning too much and the spotlight was on him, watch the reactions from people. He was called a thug, which is really another word for something else (we all know). He was called the other word as well, and while he did nothing during this season to justify that, because he was black, successful, and winning his way, it rubbed people the wrong way. Hell, imagine the reactions if the Panthers won the Super Bowl. Now, let's look at Cam now. He's saying we live in a post racial society, saying that your color is just 1/8th, that he doesn't see or face racism. What changed outside of the loss in the Super Bowl? He has no comments on Colin Kaepernick and what he did, nor did I expect him to. This is a new version of Cam, a more PC version, one that has endorsements and money to worry about versus saying what you might really experience or think. That's a normal thing in athletes... Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and others be damned, today's athlete doesn't stand for much outside of their paychecks. That's their choice and while I can't judge them for it, it is a little unsettling that in such turbulent times, no one takes a stand in that arena.

Except Colin Kaepernick. Very rarely will the NFL see guys do things like this. It's actually very simple anyways, yet this matter is made more complicated for obvious unnecessary reasons. Kaepernick spoke out in protest of the issues affecting black people and the police brutality that's going on in the world on our people. He grew out an afro, which I'm sure some people can joke on this, and he spoke out after not standing for the national anthem. Him not standing was strategic. It was calculated. It wasn't intended to disrespect the military. It was intended to get him the spotlight to shed light on the issues and be a voice. I'm certain Kaepernick has stood for the anthem previously. I'm certain he's pledged support for the military. I'm certain he's done all of these things as his own personal choice. He believes and stands for what he believes is right and if it means NOT standing for an anthem that has connotations of a celebration of the slaughter of slaves, then you can keep ALL OF that. Kaepernick did what he saw fit to, and as usual, when America doesn't like what you do, they turn the point and twist the issue. Where was that so disrespectful for the military? Sure there are people in the military who took offense and I get it. They believe in that flag and that anthem so much. They have American flag bumper stickers on their vehicle and believe wholeheartedly in the concept of America. Beautiful. However, does America even showcase the same appreciation for the military and the veterans that fight and bust their asses for the country? I'd say no. People were totally fine watching our troops fight a war that had no purpose and instead they criticized those who protested the war. Those who were protesting the war didn't want our American troops and military blood shed for the unknown agenda of the government. But once again, I digress. You'll have people on both sides of this argument I'm sure, and that's fine. I expect it to be like that. For the sake of today, we wanted to talk Kaepernick as a group and discuss whether we support him or not. I just wanted to paint a picture first here. I'll give the floor over to my DAR contributors. Catch you on the outro.

My take on the Kaepernick situation resta with those who are in support of him. People are looking at this from all different angles, except for his reasoning. I’ve seen it all from those on social media and in the media themselves, saying this is him reaching for attention, disrespecting the military, disrespecting this country, which couldn’t be any more further from the truth.

Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem has shown how we as people are far away from coming together to be this great nation that many speak of. Kaepernick bringing up social issues that this government refuses to address should not be scrutinized by anyone at this moment and his protest shouldn’t bother anyone. He has the right to do so and people should pay more attention to his reasoning on why he was sitting during the anthem instead of putting him down for it. If you see multiple Vets, who many say Kap is disrespecting, voicing their support for him sitting during the anthem, then maybe people should stop rushing to react and actually take the time to listen. Once that happens, then we’ll make some type of progress that Kaepernick is asking for.

Colin Kaepernick. Once the man of the San Francisco 49ers, is currently facing a lot of criticism from the media and the entire United States of America due to the recent stunt he pulled: sitting down during the national anthem. Sure, it's disrespectful, and insulting to the military, but answer this for me...

Does America really give a shit about the military?

Think about it. Colin explained why he chose to sit down due to the oppression minorities face, police brutality, and how so many people are being murdered and no justice is happening. Yet the people continue to ignore our problems, as usual, and made it a military thing instead. Where was this military support when veterans returned from war, any war? Did you help a homeless veteran today? Did you feed a veteran today? Did you help women that are victims of rape in the military at all? Did you donate a $1 at your local super market to help support the troops? Ever?

Why. Does. America. Always. Ignore. The. Point.

It's ridiculous that Colin Kaepernick is getting crucified for expressing his right to protest and instead of focusing on his reasons and the bigger issues, we choose to make it a military problem. "It's insulting to the veterans and soldiers of America!"

Shut the fuck up. Seriously. You don't care about our troops at all. Nor do you care about those being murdered in the streets everyday due to police brutality. Save it. I support Colin 100% and so many other veterans. #VeteransForKaepernick was trending all day long on Twitter after Colin made his actions public. I'm not the only one supporting Colin. I hope Colin continues to sit down and starts a movement throughout the NFL. A couple of other players have already joined Colin, and so are many citizens of America. Plus, should we really sing and celebrate the national anthem? The anthem used to celebrate slaughter of slaves who tried to run away from their owners. That alone shouldn't make you want to stand up for the anthem.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
My final words are this: if we live in a free nation that has had amendments and rights in place for years and years, then where is it disrespectful to the country to exercise those same rights and amendments? Where does the issue come in? Where does it end? Kaepernick did what he wanted to do and chose to. It's his choice. Should he lose his job as a quarterback because of it? Who is to say what he did was wrong? Questions that should really be thought about. Kaepernick made a choice. One I respect and understand. A number of veterans understood it too. The systematic oppression and the police brutality towards minorities is not something to just brush over like many have done since Kaepernick decided to sit. Maybe, just maybe, instead of blindly criticizing his actions, you take the time out to understand and learn his real motivation behind it.



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