Sports will never outweigh social issues or shield anyone from the atrocities faced in the real world, so the notion that it is possible for athletes who exist outside of the sports world “to stick to sports” is laughable. With that being said, if you’d like to see an athlete who uses their platform to incite change, look no further than Colin Kaepernick.
I’m still in awe that this man risked his lifelong goal of playing pro football to stand up against the systematic oppression of black people. Despite the NFL being primarily black, a high percentage of players remain silent out of fear of losing endorsements, or even worse, employment (which happened to Kaepernick).
I understand professional football players come from a variety of different backgrounds and a large contingent of these athletes have families and friends who depend on them financially. This is exactly what makes Kaep so special. He’s willing to sacrifice his livelihood and standing within his personal circle for the greater good. This isn’t about him, this is about generations of African Americans who’ve lived in fear and have no reason to trust our police force.
We’ve watched countless unarmed black women/kids/men die (Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin and the list goes on) at the hands of the very same people who are supposed to serve and protect us. THIS HAPPENS IN THE VERY SAME COUNTRY, WE REST OUR HEADS. Not only is there no amount of money that can protect you from being black in America, as a human with a heart, these things are impossible to ignore.
By choosing to kneel during the anthem, Kaep not only peacefully got the attention of an entire country in dire need of change, he woke people out of their slumber and forced a conversation that was long overdue. He faced constant criticism and derision and was even accused of disrespecting the armed forces (even though many athletes, including ones who kneeled, come from military backgrounds and have a plethora of loved ones who risk their lives for this country).
Colin Kaepernick not only spoke up for a cause, he followed up his words and peaceful protest with direct action -- explaining why he chose to take a stance during interviews, using his social media account as a tool of knowledge, hosting ‘Know Your Rights’ camps and donating millions to a plethora of organizations.
We ask athletes to use their platforms for good and there’s nothing better than bringing light to the killings of unarmed black men/women in this country. If we’re going to stop an epidemic -- one that’s been going on since Africans were enslaved in this country -- we have to champion and support the Colin Kaepernick’s of the world.