Ever been to a public sports event, say, an NFL game? When the national anthem is played or sung, does everyone stand quietly and respectfully?
No. Drunk people shriek and yell during the national anthem. Sober people talk and stare at their iPhones and bobble in the hot dog line, all during the national anthem.
Colin Kaepernick sat rather than stood through the national anthem, with intention, in the tradition of civil protest, and calmly explained why.
“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 in an exclusive interview after the game. “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.”
We all need to sit with his statement, before conflating it with disdain for all police or hatred for America. This may especially be true for white adoptive parents of black children.
Kaepernick is a transracial adoptee, raised by white parents.
White adoptive parents: Can you see Colin Kaepernick as your black child, protesting the oppression of people of color, and then being vilified from many quarters?
Have you consulted with black friends as to their perspective?
The world is going to see our children as black men and women. Whether we want to believe it or not, we live in a racist society. Our white privilege will not protect our children. It’s not protecting Colin Kaepernick.
How would you handle your black child repeatedly and publicly being called “nigger” and told to leave the country, because he protested the oppression of people of color?
How will you explain to your black kids that there are people burning Kaepernick’s jersey, in a manner reminiscent of hanging effigies? Those folks are not writing commentary or thoughtfully tweeting: they are setting fires and posting videos. It’s not a peaceful dialogue. When you reflect on lynching and strange fruit, what will you say to your kids?
How will you explain “patriotism” to your children: as speaking up for people of color in a legal, non-violent way in a country founded on freedom of speech? Or as standing for a national anthem that, as it turns out, is rooted in racism?
I stand when the national anthem plays. I take pride in many aspects of being American, and I recognize the many privileges and advantages we have.
As a white parent and grandmother of black children, I also stand with Colin Kaepernick, as he has shown intentional advocacy in raising awareness of the racism in our beloved country. Colin will be fine, and will weather the attacks and the ugly vilification that are the tradition of responses to civil rights protests in America. It will take time, it’s a hard road, and we all have to travel it.