GQ Magazine has officially named Colin Kaepernick as “Citizen of the Year” and I am completely overjoyed.
Colin Kaepernick has spewed a much-needed dialogue amongst the American people. When the ex-quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the National Anthem, back in early September, the 30-year-old athlete gave birth to a movement that has crossed the bounds of mere politics and altered the perspectives of millions – all for the need of awareness. Kaepernick did receive an overwhelming response of negative feedback; however, the positivity and the unwavering support that spills over from other conscious figures (including Angela Rye and Van Jones) has managed to outweigh all the bad.
Kaepernick’s subtle, yet effective, protest even inspired other teams to express their own disapproval of the country’s main tune. When asked about why he chose to take a knee, Kaepernick disclosed, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said, via NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
For decades, police brutality has drudged beneath the surface of America’s foundation. The occurrences of circumstances featuring names like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and Tanisha Anderson all have struck eerie chords of reminders that those who protect are told “to protect and serve” can also be labeled as judge, jury and executioner. The entire world has witnessed the constant acquittal of officers who were caught on camera, murdering so-called “suspects” in cold blood. Some officers yell that they acted in self-defense, others say that the suspect resisted and, in rare instances, some individuals don’t even carry the title of “officer” (i.e.: George Zimmerman). The frustrating part about this whole ordeal is the fact that African-Americans have to live with the subconscious fear that police are not intended to protect their well-being.
Colin Kaepernick used his platform as a way to shed light on an issue that is near and dear to his heart. If I recall correctly, the First Amendment right is presented as freedom of speech which includes the right to assemble and petition the government. Critics can say that he should have protested on his own time and not on the field; yet, what greater way to make a statement than with millions of people watching? Since our elected representatives and senators cannot seem to get their points across on Capitol Hill, why not take it to the football field? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. trekked throughthe streets of Birmingham, Alabama and white supremacists let their tiki torches and voices resonate in Charloteesville, Virginia – so, why is the Kaepernick’s situation any different?
I understand that there’s this immense debate that politics and sports should not be mixed; however, in today’s day and age, mixing the two is inevitable. I applaud Kaepernick for his fearlessness and courage. I also applaud him for his sacrifice. Due to his actions, an entirely different demographic is aware of the police brutality struggle within America. Now, I’m not saying that his personal protest will dictate policy but I am confident that it has ignited a fire within millennials all over the United States. I’m just excited to see the youth of America defend what they believe in. For years, we have been hindered, rejected, constantly ridiculed and persecuted for strides to better ourselves as a people – but, our voices and our rights will not be held captive to an institution that refuses to acknowledge the fault in its own justice system.
So, I stand with Kaepernick. I stand with him every step of the way. And, to GQ Magazine, I salute you. It’s about damn time. #RealRecognizeReal #BeTheChange #TakeAKnee
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**Photo Credit: GQ.com