One day after 9/11 this year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, sat during the national anthem.
Here he is kneeling.
People around the country have both lauded and criticized his choice.
I’d like to weigh in.
My first reaction was harsh.
How could he be so disrespectful?
I came to the defense of my country and listed, in my head, all the reasons why we are fortunate to live in America— land of the free and home of the brave.
It’s true that not everyone is afforded the same opportunities in our country, and that social injustice and racism must be addressed. Colin Kaepernick used his celebrity to bring attention to this subject.
As an American, he has every right to exercise his first amendment privileges, a liberty he apparently takes for granted; but what I’m suggesting is that there are other, possibly better, ways to get his message across.
“What she’s doing is pop-consciousness raising. She’s not just talking about the tyranny of make-up. She’s talking about female authenticity. She’s challenging the culture’s relentless standards of feminine conformity and the beauty industry’s incessant product hype.” - Letty Cottin Pogrebin, founding editor and writer Ms. magazine.
Alicia is taking a stand, one that is strong and proactive. It is also respectful and inclusive.
And I guess that’s my point. What Colin did further segregates. It pits people against one another, causes controversy and makes us pick teams: For or Against.
The focus is on what Kaepernick did, not on creating serious solutions.
We are Americans, all of us. We are our own special tribe, and you can see that most clearly on days like 9/11/2001 when disaster struck, and Americans from all socio-economic backgrounds, races, religions and cultures came together to protect and save one another while risking their own lives.
What if Colin disagreed with the politics or tactics of his coach?
Would he sit in protest instead of play?
I don’t think so.
We may not agree with everything that’s going on around us; but as a team player, a community member, you do what you can respectfully in order to call attention to what must change.
And that’s what Alicia did.
She put a spotlight on a topic that has huge ramifications for women. But she did it reverentially and with dignity. And, in not wearing make-up herself, she is a role model, part of the game, part of the solution.
Colin, you sparked a conversation, that’s true; but in your approach you desecrated our country and our flag: our symbol for freedom, and hope.
But I have an idea!
Colin there is room for redemption. There is another important matter that must be addressed in this country!
There is a huge disparity between rich and poor. And the education that underprivileged children get is subpar.
It’s not fair.
You had advantages, Colin.
In this country, you went to school and learned to read. Do you know how many people would risk their lives for that opportunity?
My idea will get you national attention.
And nobody will be upset.
Why don’t you donate most of the $114,000,000 you will earn, in this country, over the next six years, to disadvantaged families in order to pay for their children’s education?
After all, it’s not “fair” that you earn as much as you do for throwing a ball when others break their backs, working long hours, for low wages, hauling garbage, standing in polluted toll booths and digging in potentially dangerous mines. These are not glamorous jobs, nor do they pay well, and their children suffer because our country has not yet figured out how to provide equally to all.
But you can make a difference!
And imagine if your fellow players, Eric Reid and Jeremy Lane, who followed your lead by kneeling, followed you in this case as well.
If you gave away $18,000,000 every year, you’d still be a millionaire.
And Colin, we would take notice of your generosity.
This action would certainly open up a conversation.
And by putting some skin in the game, you’d see concrete results from your actions.
Kneeling is easy.
You caused a big stir that will soon be forgotten.
But if you, and other football players, gave away millions, annually, for underprivileged children, you’d be honored and remembered for your "actual" contribution to our society.
You'd be true American heroes.