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Colin Kaepernick: This stand was for those without a voice

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The San Francisco 49ers quarterback spoke extensively on his reasons for sitting during the National Anthem. He seems to have thought about this extensively. You can watch the full Q&A here.

One of the more regular reactions I’ve seen since Colin Kaepernick was noticed sitting down during the National Anthem is people sarcastically stating that clearly he has been oppressed, and pointing to his contract and pictures of him with cars.

Kaepernick did not say he was being oppressed during his interview with NFL Media’s Steve Wyche. He was speaking in a broader sense. That being said, on Sunday, someone asked him if he personally feels oppressed (transcript, video).

There have been situations where I feel like I’ve been ill-treated, yes. But, this stand wasn’t for me. This stand wasn’t because I feel like I’m being put down in any kind of way. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.

He was later asked if he has ever been pulled over unjustly or had any bad experiences with the police. He offered this up:

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. 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.

Plenty of people are going to continue to disagree with Kaepernick from a variety of angles. Some people don’t believe it was the proper time or place. Others will disagree with his statements about police and/or his statements about racial injustice. Some who disagree are a mix of these. That being said, it is clear that Kaepernick has thought about this subject. You don’t have to agree with his opinion to recognize this was not just an off-the-cuff reaction.

Another criticism has been, “well what else is he doing?” The thought for some is that a protest is not enough without further contributions. I believe that some of the people asking that don’t actually care if he is doing more, but are rather looking for reasons to further critique Kaepernick. But that is likely a portion of the people who also don’t agree with the underlying societal critique involved in Kaepernick’s protest. But Kaepernick did address that. Someone asked if he had activism plans beyond sitting down during the National Anthem. His response:

Yeah, most definitely. There are things that I have in the works right now that I’m working on to put together in the future and have come to fruition soon. Those are things that I’ll talk about as we get closer to those days.

It would seem like his views on this subject have taken time to develop. He said he previously was not sure how to deal with this, and that he has taken time to better educate himself on the topic. That would explain why he did not do this protest prior to the current preseason (some people have complained that if it mattered he would have done it during the Super Bowl three years ago). His social media has grown significantly more vocal over this calendar year about matters of racial injustice, so clearly this is a development since he last set foot on the field. It’s been an evolution of his thoughts and feelings on the matter.

I feel like this adds some needed context to his comments, as people are picking and choosing what they want to take from this story. A lot of folks support his statement, but believe it was the wrong time/place to execute such a message. He has been speaking on this issue via social media for the past eight months, and few people have said anything. Well, now we’re talking.