The San Francisco 49ers have their starting quarterback available to the media once per week, and then the rest of the locker room is available after practice. Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken time each week to answer questions, although he has kept it limited to a single session these first few weeks of the regular season.
On Tuesday, he spoke to the media and there were plenty of questions regarding his protest. He told the media that he will donate $100,000 per month for 10 months to various community organizations. He said he will create a website that will allow people to track how the money is used. Charities do important work, but plenty have had issues where money is improperly used, so having this kind of transparency is helpful.
There was some more distressing news, although given the behavior of some folks, it is not surprising. Kaepernick told the media that he has received death threats outside of just social media. Twitter is loaded with keyboard warriors who spew things, but if people are mailing or calling in death threats, that’s something else entirely. Kaepernick discussed his recognition of this possibility, via Cam Inman:
Kaepernick said he does not alert team security in the wake of such threats, because, “to me, if something like that were to happen, you’ve proved my point and it will be loud and clear for everyone why it happened, and that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now.
“Granted, it’s not how I want it to happen, but that’s the realization of what could happen. I knew there were other things that came along with this when I first stood up and spoke about it. It’s not something I haven’t thought about.”
There is room for healthy debate about the issues Kaepernick is raising, and I have spoken to plenty of people who still think he is disrespecting the flag and America with his actions. That being said, if his actions have someone threatening him with death, that person is nothing more than a despicable coward.
These player protests have raised plenty of passion and feelings. Some people are against it strictly because they are convinced it is disrespectful to America. People have different experiences in America, and particularly with regard to the flag. I think that goes towards Kaepernick’s point in the protest, but I get that others feel differently.
However, there are also a lot of people who are against the protest because the underlying issues cause them discomfort. The issue of race in America is an ugly one. This country has a lengthy history of oppressing minorities. I do believe the country is finding ways to fix that, but we have a long way to go. A critical part of moving forward is getting people to actually talk about these issues. Talking about these kinds of issues is incredibly uncomfortable because it involves admitting this country has done some seriously awful things in its history. America has done plenty of great things, but there is a lot of work left to be done.
I think a lot of people recognize that and are trying to work through this and understand the issues. But we still have a lot of people who are uncomfortable with it, and some who are downright hostile to it. The fact that somebody would consider killing Colin Kaepernick because of his silent protest goes to show just how far we have to go in addressing these issues.
Earlier today, I had a discussion today with a gentleman from a group called the Freedom Alliance. Tom Kilgannon is president of the organization, and he has organized a petition asking Roger Goodell to ban the protests. He believes they are anti-American and are an insult to military veterans. We discussed both sides, and while I don’t think either of us came closer together, it was at least a civil debate.
Ending racism in America is not something that will happen any time soon. I doubt it ends in my lifetime, and really, ending systemic racism is such a huge undertaking. But a willingness to at least have these discussions is critical to moving this thing forward.