CURRENT AFFAIRS: Sit or Salute: Colin’s Right to Choose
BY RORY T. EDWARDS
Ever since American sports were racially integrated, athletes on all levels have been given a platform to express their talent — and their opinions.
African-American athletes, especially in the early days of integration, have had both the thrill of victory and agony of defeat attached to the very real possibility of verbal and physical attacks. In many cases, it not only affected their performance, but spilled over into their lives off the field of play. Still, if you ask fans today, they’ll say sporting events are the one stage where everyone is equal — regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, or ideology.
That may be the case until an athlete exercises his or her First Amendment right or shows a social conscience. Did anyone notice or care that athletes are human beings first, as affected by the same worldly issues as the next person? Shouldn’t they be able to express themselves on injustice?
For five years Colin Kaepernick has been a model player, a quarterback who nearly led his team to the NFL’s mountaintop. But as soon as he addresses the concerns of every father and mother who has a black son in America — by sitting down during the national anthem — he is seen as the symbol of unpatriotism because many believe the flag represents all whose lives were lost fighting for our freedom. Well, what about the civil rights of the fathers and mothers who’ve buried a son and watched his killer walk away?
The third verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” goes like this:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Kaepernick sitting down during anthem has nothing to do with being unpatriotic, anti-American, or ungrateful for being paid millions to play a game. It’s about the injustices in this country since the inception of slavery — always directed at the same group of people, as clearly stated above in the above verse.
Many still hold the underlying belief that one group needs to be seen and not heard, even after enduring the unthinkable at the hands of their country. One group that continues to believe in the American Dream, despite their lives and their children’s lives amounting to a nightmare.
Colin Kaepernick wasn’t the first athlete to use the national stage to bring attention to an issue of social consciousness in America and he shouldn’t be the last. Athletes are looked upon many times as the most revered people in the world. If they stood united against social injustice, the world will pause and pay more attention.
And if more professional athletes understood their power as change agents, they would leave an incredible legacy of promoting equal citizenship in The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.