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Who Will Sit or Kneel with Kaepernick?

September 8, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Well, one lone man, sitting or kneeling, has generated a storm of criticisms that has taken on diverse features – asininity, ridiculousness, distraction, threats, rationalizations, racism, and straw-man-ism (interjecting unrelated issues).

What has he done? Who has he killed? Who has he verbally or physically attacked? What has he stolen? What evil has he done? None of the above. He has decided to sit or kneel while the National Anthem is being played, thus exercising what a cherished American document says he has the right to do. Yet, this silent act was met with a cascade of boo’s throughout the game. Read about what some decent, intelligent people have to say.

**Victor Cruz, NY Giants Football Player, speaking for the crowd, said, “I agree with what Kaepernick says about the conditions, but I’m sticking with my teammates.”

I have a question for Mr. Cruz, “Do you always do what your teammates do?” If you were on the Brooklyn Dodgers when Jackie Robinson joined the team, would you have stood with your teammates against Mr. Robinson? Can you ever envision a time that you would stand against your teammates? By the way, Jackie said he would not stand for the Anthem. (See my article in the Daily Challenge, entitled, “To Stand or Not to Stand for the Anthem: Kaep Says No, What Do You Say?” dated Thursday, September 1, 2016.)

Are you among the crowd who never said a word about the condition or the treatment of people of color, and probably would continue their silence if Kapernick had not taken a stand, sit, or kneel. Thanks to Mr. Kaepernick, now, once again, the inescapable race issue is center stage.

**Others say Mr. Kaepernick is right about Black and Brown people’s treatment, but we have made great progress, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders carried the flag. Well, that was true. We might agree that things are much better than they were, but what does that have to do with anything?

**Are you saying it disrespects the soldiers? Well, from social media and what I have heard, the preponderance rests with those who respect, in fact, even admire Mr. Kaepernick. I know there were mixed feelings among Black soldiers who went to war in the past. Some went because of patriotism. Others went because they had to, and hated every moment. Some fought not because of patriotism, but to stay alive.

As long as there is racism, bigotry, injustice, discrimination, even if one person is the victim, there should be protests of some kind. Kaepernick’s critics ought to thank God for the mild, constitutional, and legal protests of Mr. Kaepernick.

Others say Mr. Kaepernick is right about Black and Brown people, but we have made great progress, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders carried the flag. Well, that was true. We might agree that things are much better than they were, but what does that have to do with anything?

**Are the critics saying that Mr. Kaepernick sitting or kneeling disrespects the soldiers? There is an interesting history about the words and the author, Francis Scott Key, who was a slave holder, had awful things to say about Black people. It was not accepted as a National Anthem until 1931 by racist President Woodrow Wilson.

**According to reports, there were at least seven National Football League executives who denounced Mr. Kaepernick’s in the strongest language, and even threatened to “white-ball” him. (Black ball for those who still use “black” to denote everything bad.) Even the same condone or allow football players to continue their service eve guilty of physical violence, and accused of accusations and murder.

The same executives condone or allow football players to continue their careers even though they are guilty of physical violence, rape, drug use, and even accusations of murder. However, the San Francisco’s Executive took a different position. Essentially, they said that Mr. Kaepernick had a right to protest. They do not try to tell players how to express their opinions as long as it doesn’t hurt the team or others.

**There are those who say that Mr. Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag, or the country. Is it the song itself, or the words which concern people? Mr. Shaun King’s article written in the Daily News on August 30, 2016 has a revealing piece of history I want to share with you. He wrote, “Most of us have no true idea what the hell we have been hearing and singing all these years. As it turns out, Keys’ full poem has a third stanza that few of us have ever heard. In it, he openly celebrates the murder of slaves.”

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Mr. King continued, “While it has always been known, the song was written during slavery. When those words about this nation being the ‘land of the free,’ didn’t apply to millions who had been held in bondage. A few of us had any idea the song was rooted in the celebration of slavery and the murder of Africans in America who were being hired by the British military to give them strength in the war of 1812, including the battle of Fort McHenry in 1814.”

**There are still others who want to convey the impression that they are concerned about Mr. Kaepernick hurting “his cause.” That position has a long history. Significantly, the people who express their concerns have been shown to have no interest or involvement in trying to correct the wrongs.. I am reminded of Frederick Douglass’ Speech on July 4, 1852. He mentioned that his critics were saying that the Abolitionist Movement would hurt the cause to end slavery.

Even President Barack Obama, returning to his international conference, chimed in the debate. He said, Mr. Kaepernick had a right to freedom of speech. He voiced the opinion that Mr. Kaepernick would come around to modify his actions as time went on. President Obama said, “I think he cares about some real legitimate issues which need to be talked about. My understanding, at least, he’s exercising his Constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of Sports Figures doing so. I think there are a lot of ways to do it.”

Finally, this issue of athletes expressing their concerns in creative ways about their people and others who are suffering from racists, violence, murder, injustice, etc. is very close to me. In the famous Olympics of 1968, I had a nephew-in-law, Larry James, who won the gold in the 400-meter relay. You would not believe the depth of venom, hatred, ostracism, and threats to which he was subjected throughout the length and breadth of this country. The essentials of life were closed to them. The job markets, educational opportunities, contacts, opportunities to exercise their skills and talents, associations and contacts and even people they thought were their friends turned their backs on them. All of this brought extreme hardship upon their families.

So, again, who will sit or kneel with Mr. Kaepernick? I will sit and kneel with him.

Join me at a Press Conference on Friday, September 9, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. in support of Mr. Colin Kaepernick at The House of the Lord Church (415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217).