Last week San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the United States by storm with his actions of choosing no to stand for the National Anthem at a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. His reason was to protest the way Blacks are treated in America. Of course this brought a lot of uproar and people being disgusted with him and people saying that he was being disrespectful to America and the military. What makes this debate more profound is not the division amongst Americans as to whether or not they agree with Kapernick, but more the type of people that agree or disagree with Kaepernick.
In my following of this story I see a division amongst people who agree/disagree with Kapernick and his method of protest. This division is all to familiar in American History, black and white. While most of the people that disagree with Kapernick’s stance are white, most that understand his position are black. Notice here I said “understand his position.”
In order to get a better understanding let’s dive into the meaning of the American Flag. Let’s look at the colors first. White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. Now let’s look at the symbols. The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun. This is all fine and well and is what makes this country so great……but not for everyone. Minorities, blacks in particular, have not been awarded these privileges that’s are symbolic of the American flag. Blacks are not looked at as pure or innocent as the white suggests. Blacks have had to be hardy and exude valor to endure what they have throughout American history, however being bold and exuding bravery had to be suppressed in order have survived in America as well. This statement holds true in some aspects today as well. Blacks have to live in fear in certain everyday situations that whites do not have to worry about in order to survive. Lastly, and the one that most blacks say eludes them the most is “justice”. Justice for Black people is hard to come by. Many laws were made specifically unjustly to suppress Black people. I am not going to go into the laws specifically but we all know that they exists. Also the judicial system clearly is unjust in its handling of blacks. Blacks, for the same crime as whites, typically get more jail time, and are unjustly prosecuted due to frivolous accusations and evidence. Blacks in most cases are guilty until proven innocent. Blacks just want the star to not only be white but to be black and white.
The American flags symbolisms, in my opinion, are different to white America than it is to black America. The analogy that I would use is a dog owner saying his dog is free to roam but has a gated back yard. The dog can only roam as far as the gate would allow. White America has no gate. They reap the full benefits of “freedom”, “liberty”, and “justice for all”. And for all that says our military fought for these liberties, blacks that were in the military had to go back into their gated back yard when they were done serving. They were not afforded GI bills and were treated like second rate citizens when they came home. They fought for freedoms that they were not awarded here. Presently these freedoms are noticed in the mortgage rates, racial profiling, social injustices, etc. Blacks’ freedoms are gated whereas whites are not. This is the message that Kaepernick wants to bring to light.
Americans are getting irate with Kaepernick for exuding the very thing that we hold dear to our hearts here in America, the First Amendment. The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States of America prohibits the making of any law respecting a religious establishment, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peacefully assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a government redress of grievances. Kaepernick exercised his First Amendment right to his freedom of speech, his right to peacefully assemble, and his right to freedom of press. This is what embodies this country. He also stood and exemplified the colors of our flag. He took a pure and innocent stance in his belief (white), was hardy and displayed valor in him knowing that this would be difficult but still having the bravery to do so (red), all to bring awareness that blacks are not justly represented by the last and most important color of the flag blue, which represents justice.