Several years ago there wa much in the news regarding a silent protest being staged by a quarterback of a team in the National Football League. The San Francisco Forty-niners had become front-and-center in virtually every sporting news report for a number of weeks as back-up quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, inadvertently decided to launch a protest of the documented injustices that plagued Black America by simply kneeling, not standing, during the national anthem. Although the team’s hierarchy would have loved for the focus to have been the result of outstanding plays and a stellar record, the basis of the attention was the response to one player’s angst toward the ills of our society that had more-or-less been swept under the rug for decades but Kaepernick staged a one-man protest to bring attention to the issues.
According to my good friend and colleague, Mr. Wide World of the Internet, Kaepernick was born November 3, 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Heidi (Zabransky) Russo, a 19-year-old Caucasian woman who was single and trying to navigate the ills of a difficult life at the time. His birth father, an African American, left before he was born. Russo placed her son up for adoption with Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, a Caucasian couple who had two children—son Kyle and daughter Devon and were looking for a boy after having lost two other sons to heart defects. At age four, Collin Rand Kaepernick became the youngest of their three children. He lived in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin until then, and attended grade school in Turlock, California after moving with his adoptive family. In high school, Kaepernick participated in a few sports as well as maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Fast-forward a couple decades and Kaepernick was blessed enough to have been able to utilize his divinely ordained talent as a football player (he also had options in college to pursue baseball as well as basketball scholarships) to earn a decent living. The talented player reportedly signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Forty-niners in 2012 which proved the benefit of his hard work.
I debated that life in and of itself remains difficult, to say the least; even when things are viewed in Black and White, but imagine not knowing where you fit in life’s over-all scheme. In his quest to take a stand for something about which he felt quite strongly, Collin Kaepernick was slammed, ridiculed and criticized for being “anti-American” when his stance actually couldn’t have been more American. One such critic by the name of Trent Dilfer, a commentator on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, came out strongly against Kaepernick’s protest. Dilfer condemned the player for “disrupting the Forty-niner organization” while noting, “The big thing that hit me through all this was this is a backup quarterback whose job is to be quiet, and sit in the shadows and get the starter ready to play Week 1,” Dilfer said on Sunday NFL Countdown.
What I have difficulty wrapping my mind around is how Mr. Dilfer who, no offense intended, is obviously not Black, nor has he ever been forced to deal with issues that typically plague Blacks, could determine whether Mr. Kaepernick had the right to protest anything he sees as an injustice was misdirected. For Mr. Dilfer, a former professional player himself, to suggest that Kaepernick’s position and status was something he’s been “given” was about as ludicrous as saying a person who’s perceived as “privileged” has no reason to gripe regarding social injustices.
It’s simply the case of an American citizen exercising his Constitutional right to list grievances about something that seriously concerns him as an individual. The First Amendment to the Constitution grants protection against the passing of any law respecting establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting for a governmental redress of grievances.
The Constitution of this country grants any citizen the right to protest which has the tendency to become a problem for people like Mr. Dilfer if they have occasion to disagree with the reason for a person’s protest. Kaepernick, unlike many who are often elevated to a position where they’re “above the realities of life” chooses to use his notoriety for a meaningful cause. One of my favorite philosophers, Edmond Burke, wrote “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”
So, to Mr. Dilfer and all those who hold to such antiquated values as to suggest anyone more fortunate should have no voice concerning real issues, I suggest you take your own advice; be quiet and sit in the shadows. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.