By Richard Pryor III
At the Associated Collegiate Press conference in Dallas last year, I heard legendary Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen speak on his career in the media world. Hansen is best known for occasionally monologuing on the intersection of social issues and sports in a segment named “Unplugged,” most famously when Michael Sam came out as gay in 2014, which landed Hansen in the pages of People, Daily News (New York) and on the hot seat at the The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Partially because I want to give my readers some time to get questions in, but also because we’re in the middle of a national argument on social issues and sports, I want to take a page out of Mr. Hansen’s book today.
An old acquaintance of mine from middle school posted a news article from “Politifeed” on Facebook this week in response to the Colin Kaepernick drama. The article is about how a Christian recording artist, Lauren Daigle, sang “God Bless America” at a baseball game and how everyone stood and put their hand over their hearts as the flag flew high, commenting how it “put every kneeling NFL player to shame.”
Another acquaintance commented, “Thank you for admitting to your racism. Now we know. Don’t get mad at Nike, get mad at the police brutality.” And an argument was launched from there. But the rest of it isn’t important.
How can people not see why Colin Kaepernick is kneeling? He’s not doing it because he doesn’t like the President or the military, or whatever contrived excuse racists pull out of their asses this week. Kaepernick, when he first knelt for the anthem, told ESPN that the main reason was that “there are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. [And there are things that] people aren’t being held accountable for.”
Our country systematically oppresses African-Americans and you’re upset because he’s “disrespecting the military”? The military that Nate Boyer, the NFL player who advised Kaepernick to kneel instead of sit and supports Kaepernick’s protest, served in? The military that is sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” which includes a right to peaceful assembly and protest?
You’re upset that he’s “politicizing the NFL”? In the last 15 years, we’ve seen both paid patriotism and Pat Tillman bear on the league. If those weren’t political, what is?
When you complain about Colin Kaepernick, you’re not complaining about “disrespecting the military” or “politicizing the NFL,” you’re complaining about black people. You’re complaining about black people that are upset about the way this nation has treated them over its history. You are, whether consciously or unconsciously, supporting a system of oppression that has existed for the entire history of this country.
Nike’s problem isn’t that they’re supporting Kaepernick, it’s that they’re profiting from this protest. The NFL’s problem isn’t that their players are “disrespecting the troops,” it’s that no owner or GM has the balls to sign Kaepernick and make their largely redneck conservative fan base insanely pissed. And finally, if you’re upset about players kneeling for the National Anthem, your actual problem is simple: you’re a racist.