"I'm Going to Stand for the People"

“I cannot stand and sing the anthem.  I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.”  No, Colin Kaepernick did not say this.  As a matter of fact, it was another great American who uttered these words.  It was a man we acknowledge as an American icon, a “Hero for Generations.” His name is Jackie Robinson.  The impact he made on the baseball field affected the world we live in.  So why has so much hatred been directed towards Colin Kaepernick?  

Kaepernick is a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and has been in the news—not for his play on the field—but for what he is doing on the sidelines.  During the national anthem, it is the American tradition to stand and place one hand over your heart, but Kaepernick has decided to kneel during this time of recognition and protest the American standard.  

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  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."  

As a black male, I do believe I am a black man living in a white man’s world.  I do believe racism is still alive and its heart is beating fast.  

Kaepernick was once the starting quarterback on a Super Bowl team just a few years ago. Now, he is the backup on a team widely considered to be subpar.  Many of his critics say he is only making a scene to save his career and keep him a relevant figure in sport, instead of focusing on his duty as an athlete.

However, since he has started kneeling during the anthem, general managers and team presidents have stated they want nothing to do with Kaepernick.  Knowing that team officials don’t want him it shows that, if anything, this has hurt his football playing career. Regardless, he is still kneeling.  

Some people say he is disrespecting America and the people who have fought for our freedom.  I disagree.  Jackie Robinson also said, “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”  Yes, slavery is abolished, but is everyone actually free?  Are we free in the eyes of our peers?  We consider ourselves children of God, yet we won’t tell our brothers and sister when we are wrong.  

Kaepernick is standing up for the people of America.  He is standing up for the minorities.  He is standing up for the oppressed.  He is doing all of that by kneeling.  Kaepernick is not disrespecting the people who served for our country, he is honoring their sacrifice by upholding our freedom.  They fight for our freedoms, and one of those freedoms is the freedom of speech.  

Telling Kaepernick he can’t kneel during the national anthem and express how he feels is taking his rights away.  He is fighting for what he believes in, and we should always stand up for what is right, even if that means kneeling.  

The majority of the student body of Covenant will never know what the fear of being black in America is. Don’t get me wrong. I love being black, but I hate being stared at when I walk into a store, knowing that people are suspicious that I might steal something from them. I hate that my mom’s biggest fear is that my brother or I won’t make it back home because we were killed.

I hate that my little brother is terrified of being pulled over, even if he did nothing wrong. I hate the thought of my little sister growing up in a world where her brothers are not there to protect her, not because we are incapable, but because we simply aren’t there.

The majority of the student body is not aware of the life and struggle we go through as black people. Colin Kaepernick is aware, and he doesn’t like what he sees. So instead of complaining about the situation and doing nothing, he’s protesting. Instead of going about this violently, he’s being peaceful. He’s fighting for people like me, my brother, and the whole black community.

Despite all this I know that many still aren’t going to understand what he’s doing. Many will still hate Kaepernick, like Iowa State Representative Steve King who says, “This is activism that is sympathetic to ISIS.” People like King will deflect from the actual issue at hand and focus on something else about him to discredit the good he is bringing.

Out of those that hate him, many only see the black and white picture: he’s not standing during the national anthem. They are the ones who aren’t living the life I am living, and I am always going to support someone who is willing to fight for my well-being, and the well-being of my community—the black community.  

In 1966, Muhammad Ali was drafted to go fight in the Vietnam War, but he refused to fight for his country. His reason being, “But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here.”

I bring up Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali, because they are considered to be some of the most prominent and most influential people of their time. Colin Kaepernick is being recognized today by the black community for the power of his stance. The president of the NAACP even said that it is “not a stretch” to compare Kaepernick to Rosa Parks. When it is all said and done, years down the road, Colin Kaepernick’s name will be mentioned with them, and his legacy will last a very long time.