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Colin Kaepernick addresses Fidel Castro-Malcolm X t-shirt controversy

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The San Francisco 49ers dropped their tenth straight game on Sunday, losing 31-24 to the Miami Dolphins. Colin Kaepernick had a big game, but the focus of his post-game press conference was his earlier discussion with a Dolphins beat writer.

Kaepernick got into an exchange with Armando Salguero regarding Kaepernick’s decision to wear a t-shirt back in August featuring Malcolm X and Fidel Castro. Salguero was born in Cuba and moved to the United States as a kid. He raised the many issues surrounding Castro’s oppressive regime. Kaepernick wanted to focus on Malcolm X, but when pressed by Salguero, he pointed out Cuba’s investment in education and universal health care. This set off Salguero, who used a column later in the week to call the quarterback ignorant and an unrepentant hypocrite.

On Sunday, following the game, a reporter asked Kaepernick about the exchange, particularly in light of Castro’s death Friday evening. Kaepernick said the reason he wore the shirt was because it was a historic moment in the life of Malcolm X. He did acknowledge that he could see how people in South Florida would perceive Castro, but he also said his comments were taken “completely out of context”:

What I said was, I agree with the investment in education. I also agree with the investment in free universal health care. As well as the involvement in him helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everyone agrees those are good things. And trying to push the false narrative that I was supporter of the oppressive things that he did, is just not true.

Fooch’s update: Here are Kaepernick’s full comments:

There was some controversy regarding your views on Castro in the newspaper.

Yeah, what I said was I agree with the investment in education. I also agree with the investment in free universal health care as well as his involvement in helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everybody agrees those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did is just not true.

You were taken out of context?

Yes, it was completely out of context. Yes, because once again what I said was I support the investment in education. I’ve never said I support the oppressive tings that he did.

You’re wearing a Malcolm X shirt today. The controversy stems from another shirt you were wearing that had Malcolm X and Fidel Castro on it. Is there any symbolism to the shirt you’re wearing today?

I’ve worn many Malcolm X shirts. He was a great man and he lived the life that he talked about. He was someone that truly walked the walk, was a great leader for the african community, and someone that I admire.

Do you understand why people in South Florida were concerned about you wearing a shirt of Fidel Castro, a dictator who oppressed people?

I can understand the concern, but for me, what I said was, that was a historic moment for Malcolm. I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life. In 1960 when they met in Harlem, that was a historic moment. That’s something I will always be true to, what Malcolm was, what he represented, because I’m not going to cut out history.

Did you find it ironic that after you have this discussion with a reporter about this that you’re in Miami when Castro passes away?

Very unique circumstances. It’s hard to really say if it was coincidence or whatever it may be. Once again very unique circumstances.

Is there anything else you’d like to clarify on your thoughts?

I feel like I did clarify them. I believe in the investment in education, I believe in free universal health care which we don’t have here. I also believe in the positive thing he did in ending aparthied in South Africa.

I also addressed the comments and Armando Salguero’s own response here.