Colin Kaepernick is reportedly ending his protest of the national anthem. Despite the massive backlash to Colin’s simple decision to sit down, the protest was a huge success – even in ways Colin didn’t intend. So, to him I say, ‘Thanks.’
All Colin Kaepernick, 29, did was kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner,” but while I watched the whole “scandal” unfold, some people acted if he had declared loyalty to ISIS while strangling a bald eagle with a burning American flag. Actually, a member of Congress did just that, saying that his decision to exercise his first amendment rights was an action “sympathetic” to the terrorist organization.
Though Colin is reportedly giving up his peaceful protest during next season, Rep. Steve King, 67, – and anyone else who trashed Colin during the 2016 season – better hold off on celebrating. After all, Colin won.
By doing something so simple, Colin forced the NFL and its fans to have a conversation about race, politics and the role of First Amendment. That alone is a W. Though Colin didn’t emerge as the newest Martin Luther King Jr., he never said he wanted to be. He just wanted to protest and he successfully got the job done.
About that protest – it wasn’t that revolutionary. It wasn’t that shocking. It wasn’t the first time a football player made a statement about police brutality (hello St. Louis Rams players who did the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” pose after Ferguson.) It wasn’t even that clever, but Colin’s protest (whether he intended to or not) was smart.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he famously said, without ever expressing an actual goal. Even though the protest came after some highly publicized shootings of black men by police, Colin never said he was going to kneel until people of color were no longer disproportionately discriminated by police.
Though Colin was criticized by an aimless, structure-less protest that seemed more “slacktivism” than actual “activism,” Colin’s choice to not have an endgame was the best thing he could have done. He could kneel for as little or as long as he wanted to while people lost their minds around him. So long as people reacted, that’s all that mattered.
And oh, everyone went utterly stupid over this kneeling man. Fans burned jerseys. They made death threats. Ex-NFL stars climbed over each other to give their opinion on this. South Park got involved. Cops threatened to boycott 49ers games. Buffalo Bills fans, the upstanding citizens that they are, booed him during game while vendors sold anti-Kaepernick shirts that had his face in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. “Wanted: Notorious Disgrace To America,” they read, according to ESPN.
This is why Colin won. The backlash to the protest was ten-times more outrageous than the actual protest. Had people simply let Colin kneel without giving him grief, then his protest would have been a failure. Instead, the NFL (and it fans) was forced to talk about politics, American race relations, and the First Amendment. Even if someone said, “I don’t care,” at least they had to choose to not have an opinion.
Maybe they might have one when the next protest happens, because Colin’s actions will not be the last time a sports star has a political opinion. In fact, Colin’s protest may have made it easier for them to express it (and know they’re in for a backlash when they do.)
Call the protest “disrespectful,” but also call it “successful.” Also, call it a potential savvy business move. Colin is reportedly opting out of his contract with the 49ers to become a free agent, and the timing of this report is smart. It may be a way to tell any future teams interested in the quarterback that they don’t have to worry about him being a distraction next season. After all, why should he be? He won.
What do you think about Colin’s protest, HollywoodLifers? Do you disagree with me that he was successful in getting his message across?