Soooo, this happened over the weekend: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem at the beginning of a pre-season game on
Saturday Friday night. Kaepernick’s stand—by not standing—was in protest of police murders of African Americans in particular in the U.S. It was the third time he had sat through the playing of the national anthem in the pre season but the first time the media sphere took notice. Predictably, vile racists crawled from their caves almost immediately to let Kaepernick know what they thought of his politics. There was the obligatory Twitter vomit fest where Kaepernick was called the usual vile names reserved for black folks, as well as the obligatory “leave the country if you don’t like it” mantra. They even talked about his mama and his daddy. And then there was the burning of Kaepernick’s 49ers football jersey. One such fire starter named Shane White posted a video of his “salute” to Kaepernick and his burning jersey, complete with the national anthem playing in the background, to his Facebook page. The video, which had been seen more than nine million times, appears to no longer be available on White’s page but the Washington Post grabbed and kept a copy here.
Kaepernick explained his refusal to stand for the anthem after Saturday’s game by saying:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media’s Steve Wyche. “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.”
Myke Tavarres, a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, has said he will join Colin Kaepernick in refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem at the Eagles’ final preseason game:
“Oh, I thought about it. Believe me, I definitely thought about it," Tavarres told ESPN. "And usually I'm front and center on the line with the rest of the guys, and that's since pre-K all the way up. Saturday's game, I stepped back, I was in the background, and it didn't feel right to me at all, and so I will be taking a stand — or sitting down — for the fourth game.”
Well … that was quick. Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Myke Tavarres has changed his mind:
After planning to follow Colin Kaepernick's lead and sit out the national anthem before Thursday's NFL preseason game against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field, an Eagles rookie rescinded his pledge.
Hours after Myke Tavarres told ESPN on Monday that he planned to sit during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the Eagles' fourth and final preseason game, his agent, Corey Williams, told a national NFL reporter that his client changed his mind.
While many teammates and other athletes, as well as the NFL and the 49ers, acknowledged Kaepernick’s right to remain seated and protest, the implications of such vitriol should not be lost. The burning of black athletes’ jerseys has an eery reminiscence of a lynching, the extrajudicial means of punishing black folks—in particular men—who were said to have committed some unspeakable offense against white society. Kevin Garnett and Lebron James had their jerseys burned simply for leaving the cities they played in. In St. Louis, fans burned jerseys, hats and other Rams gear after five players entered the stadium with their hands up in solidarity with the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” protests spurred by Darren Wilson’s murder of Michael Brown; they burned Rams gear over the action of five players.
Lynching remains a horrific crime against humanity. The likening of it to jersey-burning responses to black sports figures’ protests in particular is not hyperbole. The works of journalist Ida B. Wells and others showed how lynching, which was said to be in response to the crime of rape of white women, was in reality nothing more than terrorism against black people for a wide range of offenses. Most often, that offense was economic self-sufficiency, deemed to be a form of competition to white business/landowners. Other times, it was simply an expedient reminder to black folks to keep their place, as in, submission to white authority.
Kaepernick has stated he will continue to remain seated for the playing of the national anthem at future games
until “there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country — is representing the way that it’s supposed to.” When asked what he is trying to accomplish with his stance, he said that, “Ultimately it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country. There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for, and that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that — this country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”
Thank you, Colin. Thank you.