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The Kaepernick Effect

I try not to make everything black and white. I hope that my growing level of consciousness won’t prevent me from enjoying everything, but I find that America makes that more and more difficult. Most recently football has become a political battlefield. Now, my Sunday afternoons and Monday nights will be spent standing by my principles instead of sitting in front of my tv praying for the Eagles to get it together.

A year ago when Colin Kaepernick received backlash for sitting during the national anthem, I began exploring my own relationship with our nation’s symbols of patriotism. Symbols that, if we are honest, carry hateful and hurtful beginnings. I see our bloodshed in the flag. Columbus monuments infuriate me. The fourth of July feels exclusive. And because he took a stand, two weeks away from the 2017 season kick-off Kaepernick is unsigned and jobless. I find it oddly coincidental that the player who boldly stood against social injustice and police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem is not being considered as a valuable option to teams who have comparably under-performing quarterbacks.

The NFL owes us answers. Is this really about football? Is the NFL taking a stand against Kaepernick for expressing his beliefs, or is the league against his beliefs? The silence of the NFL is being interpreted as consent. With Kaepernick and the NFL both choosing a side, where do we fall?

I stand by Kaepernick. We don’t agree on everything, but I can align with the fact that our system is unjust and we need to stop acting as if everything is acceptable. I’m aware there is controversy over his abilities and whether or not this would be the case for a more talented athlete, but the facts show that his unemployment may be bigger than football. Out of 32 teams in the NFL, Kaepernick’s 2016 ESPN quarterback rating ranks him at 23 above several quarterbacks who have starting positions. While he is not the best in the league, he is certainly not the worst, and at the very least, he would be a viable back-up option for several teams. Not to mention the NFL has done nothing to show support for the stand he is taking against social injustice, and that is problematic.

When a person like Kaepernick articulates his stance on an ongoing American issue and the organization that employs him ostracizes him for speaking out on behalf of the oppressed, the door is now open for the oppressed to speak for themselves. So here I am sitting out of the fantasy football league I placed second in last year, not watching football on Sunday afternoon, and making sure everyone knows that I’m not in support of the NFL until further notice.

An NFL boycott is all about principle. It’s about standing for something because you have to start somewhere. It’s an opportunity for African Americans and those in support of justice to make a bold statement to organizations that have an obligation to speak up.

If African Americans make up seventy percent of players in the NFL, one would think that the owners and the organization would show concern for the plight of African Americans in this country. However, instead of support, the league as a whole and owners as individuals have been silent on the issues that impact a majority of their players. As the t-shirts say, “White silence is violence.” By sitting on the fence, the NFL has picked a side. It’s time we picked ours.

I appreciate that Kaepernick used his platform to take a political stand, and I won’t let him stand alone. I will be boycotting the NFL until further notice.

Tell me what you’re doing.

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