I'm a U.S. Air Force Veteran and an Oakland Raider Fan Who Stands with Kaepernick

A Raider fan and US Air Force veteran writes about supporting Kaepernick something bigger than football: Human Rights.

I am an African American United States Air Force veteran who served to protect the freedom of speech provided to all Americans and since becoming a civilian in 2003. I have exercised that freedom by marching in several protests aimed at bringing public awareness to police brutality around the nation. I am also an Oakland Raiders fan, and I do admit that I hold a great bit of disdain in my heart for the San Francisco 49ers since they are the opposing team in the Bay Area. With that said, many may find it ironic that I would support a backup quarterback from our crosstown rivals. I am a football fanatic who realizes that some things are much bigger than football, namely human rights.

Since the birth of our nation people of color have been conditioned to be seen but not heard and whenever that American norm is violated the discipline is swift and decisive. In times past discipline was at the end of a whip, but now discipline is executed through public condemnation and shaming. There was a time when America liked its people of color quiet and productive out in the cotton fields. Now, Americans want them quiet and entertaining out on the football fields. The prevailing argument against athletes that speak out is that they are making millions of dollars and that they should be grateful for that fact. That thought process suggests that athletes should be thankful to us and people who are thankful to us should not be criticizing us or pointing out our social shortcomings. Athletes who are thankful to us should just shut up and entertain. That thought process also suggests that an athlete’s tongue is less valuable than his or her feet. We want to see them run as long as they are not running their mouths.

Colin Kaepernick’s recent protests have shined a bright light on the fact that although laws in America have changed to the benefit of African Americans the public sentiment has not changed as much as we would like to believe. Today we celebrate great athletes like Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali who moonlighted as social activists, but memories don't always reflect the reality of the things being memorized. Memories are often exaggeratedly romanticized. We have to remember that these great socially aware athletes of the past were not always celebrated at the time that they criticized America’s ills. These men who we now hold in such high regard in the present day were once considered troublemakers, un-American or even believed to be stepping out of line and rocking the boat by many Americans. Sound familiar?

Now, when it comes to the battle for hearts and minds I do believe that technology plays a much greater role in spreading information and ideas in this modern day and age than it did in the 60's. Although Ali's actions were reported by the media back in the 60's his message was subject to that same media spin and manipulation. With the creation of social media athletes like Kap have direct access to the public with full control of reporting not only their actions but also the message that they want disseminated. So, in a way Kaepernick has it much easier than activist athletes of the past but the pressure he is under is still just as real.

Heroes of change are rarely viewed as heroes in their own time. As the old saying goes "hindsight is 20/20." We cannot always appreciate the gravity of a situation until we view it through the lens of history. Colin Kaepernick has single-handedly brought the concerns of disenfranchised minorities into mainstream light overnight. Yes, the Black Lives Matter movement has made America more aware of police brutality in minority neighborhoods but the only problem is that not all Americans can identify or empathize with normal everyday people from the inner city.

When Colin Kaepernick says the exact same thing from his public platform the message resonates throughout every household in America regardless of race, social status, financial standing or even the team loyalty of fans. That is what makes his protest so powerful. As much as we hate to admit it, the value of a message is often measured by the status of the voice speaking it.

Whether we support Colin's message or not the fact still remains that athletes in this country enjoy a sort of charming effect over us. They are our modern day gladiators. Children as well as adults look up to these athletes with admiration for their godlike physical abilities. The time has come for us to drop the archaic thinking of slave times when people of color were to be seen not heard and usher in a new era where we not only value African American athletes for their abilities to entertain us but also for their ability to enlighten us.

As you can see across the nation, the pressure is immense, African Americans and allies around the nation are more than willing to help him carry the load. If that means sitting, kneeling and or raising a fist during the singing of an antiquated national anthem that was written in times when our African American ancestors were considered livestock, then so be it.

Related Media
Like Colin Kaepernick, I Might Sit Down Too

This article is part of the categories: Law & Justice  / Politics  / Sports 
This article is part of the tags: 49ers  / Colin Kaepernick  / National Anthem  / Police Violence  / Protest  / Racism  / Radier Nation  / Raider fans  / Raiders  / US Air Force  / Veterans 

Comments

FANTASTIC!!!!!!! Great writing Corey!!!!!! I hope it gets shared FAR and WIDE!!!

Well written Corey...Kaps protest opened my eyes to all of the lyrics in Americas National Anthem and like Kap, I will no longer stand for a song that glorifies the terror and killing of slaves...As a people we need more of our history...knowledge is power...Corey thank you for this...much love...

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