San Francisco 49er quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, let the world know why he refused to stand up for the Star Spangled Banner during a pre-season game last week. In an interview with NFL.com, Kaepernick stated:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The backlash from fans was swift and severe. In many instances, the backlash underscored the exact system of racism that Kaepernick sought to protest.
One particular video featured a man burning a Kaepernick jersey while attempting a salute with the Star Spangled Banner playing in the background. And while I try my best to avoid hyperbole, seeing this video combined with the message these fans wish to convey — shut up, know your place, and do your job — I instantly began to think of another image of intimidation that plagued American history.
Both videos include a person or group who believes they are real American patriots. Both videos include a person or a group who believes that people of color should not be complaining. Both videos include a person who wants to make a public display of their opposition towards a minority.
I’ll be the first to admit that these two cases are far from apples-to-apples. But the motivation, imagery, and tenor of this particular San Francisco 49er fan struck a nerve with me and reminded me a very dark time in our history.
Featured image via screenshot