A hot topic in the news right now is Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem in protest of police brutality. The protest has been met by varied reactions. Some people are praising him for advocating for the issue and even following his lead, while others are condemning him for being UN-American.
The problem with the latter opinion is that what Kaepernick is doing couldn’t be more American in the sense that he is exercising his constitutional rights peacefully. So while his actions may be unpatriotic, it’s not fair to say Call such a protest UN-American. Despite what some critics have said about his protest, the backlash is not out of patriotism or respect. The backlash is because of white supremacy, which is exactly why Kaepernick says he is protesting.
White supremacy is not just something to associate with neo- Nazi skinheads and the KKK. White supremacy is an institutional problem. That means that our society has been conditioned to regard white people as superior. That indoctrination happened through years of conquest, colonialism and forced assimilation so even though we’ve come a long way, there’s still work to do to achieve racial equality and equity.
So what does this have to do with Kaepernick’s protest? Well, his protest for black lives as a man of color is being severely undermined and criticized because it does not support the dominant, white culture. His critics are practicing an “if you’re not for us you’re against us stance,” so even though he is standing up (figuratively) for black lives and not putting down white lives, people are acting like he’s doing just that and chalking it up to un-American.
The institution of white supremacy directly affects intersectionality and the fight for equity. Race affects someone’s identity and how they fit into the systematic Institutions of privilege and oppression. Kaepernick is a bi-racial man who has spoken about his own own racial identity being a personal issue for him. Despite that, he found the courage to peacefully protest for something he believes in and practice is American rights to highlight in the media a severe consequence of white supremacy in America.