America Needs to Learn From Colin Kaepernick and Focus on the Issues - Sports Illustrated

Unchecked: Learn From Kap and Focus on the Reason for the Protesting, Not the Act Itself

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Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem more than three years ago to protest the issues of police brutality and systemic racism in America. That simple, peaceful act caused mass hysteria in America, prompting comments that Kaepernick was not protesting the right way rather than spurring conversation about the issues he was trying to bring up. 

America needs to learn from its mistakes in the way it reacted to Kaepernick's protests and focus on the issues rather than the way they are protested.

Read the full video transcript below:

The hysteria around kneeling looks extra foolish right now. Let’s not make the same mistake yet again and spend all our energy on the reaction and not the reason. Jaylen Brown of the Celtics tweeted “I chose to do a peaceful protest that was my choice you do not get to choose for the rest of America.” Kneeling was as peaceful as it gets. And the vast majority of what is transpiring now is as well

But we all have to understand why frustration and heartbreak is at the level it is. And empty corporate statements aren’t going to address it. Just in the NBA alone in the last several years we’ve seen hoodies worn to honor Trayvon Martin, and I CAN'T BREATHE shirts for Eric Garner, and now in the wake of the murder of George Floyd many have taken to saying “If YOU ain’t with US WE ain’t with Y’ALL!” And how can you blame them? 

Nothing has changed. Black Lives Matter isn’t supposed to be just a hashtag. How can we all not empathize as human beings? And simply posting on social media about change hasn’t made any. Because here we are again. Michael Jordan called for a unified voice to put pressure on leaders to change laws and votes to create systemic change. And clearly we need better leadership, genuine police reform and to address the legal system. The things a knee was originally taken for. 

I don’t want black people to be alone in that fight. And while of course I want peace, I also want justice. We do need to all be in this together, but that requires everyone to genuinely care why we’re here in the first place.

For more on the sports world reacting to George Floyd's death: