Nonfiction Societal The Word 6 minute read

Standing Up by Sitting Down: Kapernick, “Patriotism” & Irony


Some of the same people who rush to the bathroom before the game starts, or jump on the phone to place a last minute wing order, or are in the stands taking selfies when the National Anthem is being sung – now claim that they are upset that Kapernick isn’t standing for the Anthem because it shows a lack of patriotism and respect for America.

Most of these “patriotic” Americans probably couldn’t tell you who their congressperson is.  According to a survey only 36% of Americans could name all three branches of the government and 35% couldn’t name any of them. It also found over 60% of Americans don’t know which political party controls the House of Representatives or the US Senate. Many probably see the Forth of July as a day to simply grill and get drunk and Memorial Day as a good day to catch good sales.


Most don’t know all the words to the National Anthem. They don’t know it was written in 1814 when slaves were far from being freed; and written by Francis Scott Key, a White Supremacist slave owner who also wrote that he felt Black people were an inferior race.  Most don’t know that the third verse talks about using enslaved people as cannon fodder (material that can be expended in war).

But they are supposedly outraged by Kapernick’s lack of patriotism.

He does have the right to do this. However, his ungratefulness and arrogance is what upsets me. He had a black father who abandoned him and was adopted by a white family who gave him a privileged lifestyle. He went to a nice school, got a great education and was able to obtain his dream of being an NFL player and cash in that million-dollar paycheck. If he is that ungrateful to those that served and died just so he can have that opportunity, then I suggest he leaves this country and go to Africa where he will discover just how oppressed minorities are.

Get on your knees in your mansion CK and thank god above for the privilege and good fortune of living in america… a country far from perfect but a place where the vast majority still embrace and love the good parts that made it great. you show yourself a poor leader of men to take a thankless, ungrateful position when you have been so blessed.

I hope people keep giving him hell, burn his jerseys, refuse to support him and quit going to the games. It’s time that ungrateful POS learns a lesson in humility. 

Burn the shirt. Burn him. Burn them all. 

Maybe he should find a country that works better for him.” – Donald Trump

Summary:  How dare a Black MF, who makes more than I do, doing what he loves refuse to do what we tell him to do. Nigga – We let you in the house.  We took you off the fields. And you still have the nerve to try to escape? We goin’ have to deal wit you boy.

That’s it. Control. Racism. That’s truly it. That’s why this story is such a big deal because on the surface it’s a football player who isn’t standing during the National Anthem (who didn’t call attention to this fact, but answered a question when asked about it). It’s not the 67 people who died this weekend in Chicago, or the cost of epi-pens that may cost people’s lives.   People are angry about a Black man protesting about the rights of Black men.  In a country premised upon free speech.  The irony is almost funny; but it’s not.

It also takes a leap of logic the size of the Grand Canyon to suggest that a person who simply does not stand for the National Anthem at a football game is somehow anti-military, or against our troops overseas.  “A” does not have anything to do with “B”.  It is no more logical than assuming the college co-ed wearing the U.S. Flag bikini on the Fourth of July is well versed in – and supportive of — our overseas military operations or foreign policy.

While people like to repeatedly say that “We are All Americans,” Kapernick’s point is that we aren’t all equal in America.  And some people’s negative reactions to his point and protest confirm that.  Consider a typical household.  I have said to my teenage son during disagreements, “You can follow my rules or find someplace to live.”  Or similarly, “as long as you live in my house, you will abide my my rules.”  I feel comfortable saying these things to my son because there is a sense of superiority and hierarchy in our relationship. While my son lives here, it is ultimately MY house. On the contrary, I would never think to say to my husband, I’m going to send you butt back to Seattle if you don’t start putting the toilet seat down” because I see us as equals. I also have never heard a White person say to another, “Go back to Ireland if you are so unhappy here.” Yet, that so many White people, including a presidential nominee, seem to comfortable casually telling Black folks like Kapernick (particularly when they dare complain) to go back Africa is indicative of an inequitably viewed relationship.

And when do you hear cries for White stars and athletes to be humble and grateful?  Why must Kapernick bow down and be grateful?  For what? Did he not go to all the practices; does he not eat right, exercise, study the play book, study to graduate from college. Did he not make it to the Super Bowl?  Did White folks allow all of that?  Is he supposed to just perform and have no opinions?


Had Kapernick beaten his girlfriend, gotten caught drunk driving or using drugs, he would not have gotten the reaction in size or scope that he’s seen because in those instances he would be hurting himself (and America has no problems with Black people exercising their freedom to destroy themselves and their neighborhoods).  But he is taking a stand, just like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Tommie Smith, and many others before him. That’s exactly how America started—what America is—the result of one big protest (remember the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party and the Spanish American War?).  We Americans stand up when we see injustice—even when others tell us to sit down.


My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more


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