The Kaepernick conundrum

The Kaepernick conundrum

I’m aware that I’m a little late on this, but writing a biweekly column creates some problems at times. I’m often a week behind everyone else. I’m also aware that pretty much everyone under the sun has given their opinion on this issue but, hey, if I can’t use this platform to jump on a bandwagon, what is it for? I’m talking, of course, about Mr. Colin Kaepernick and his national anthem protest.

The truth of the matter is that this issue goes way deeper than showing respect to the anthem and the flag, but it’s certainly the embodiment of it in the national press right now. This is in no way meant to disrespect the U.S.A., but if this were in England, I would not be bothered at all. Patriotism is very different around the world. The United Kingdom is so divided that many of the countries within it do everything they can to distance themselves from England. I’m proudly European, British, half-Scottish and half-English, but am absolutely fine with saying that I hate the English national anthem. It’s an outdated, monotonous song with a racist verse we no longer sing. I know the words due to having watched enough international soccer games to last a lifetime, but I’m far more proud of my country for its successes rather than its flag or its song.

The Kaepernick issue is not an issue to me at all. He is exercising his rights as a citizen of this country to peacefully protest and making a real statement in doing so. And I think it’s totally valid. How can anyone in this country really be surprised that these sort of protests are occurring when African-American men continue to be shot and killed in unprovoked incidents on a weekly basis? It pains me that a Trinity classmate and friend of mine tweeted last week that he’d been pulled over by a policeman and felt that his life depended on how fast he reached for his license and registration. There was no irony in that tweet. How can anyone be okay with this? I’m not police bashing “” it’s an incredibly hard job to enforce the law “” but these tragedies keep happening and it cannot be simply by accident every single time.

The issues and racial divisions in this country right now are at a particularly tense point. I’m well aware that with the first presidential debate this past Monday, Trump and his views are only exacerbating this situation. I can’t express how strongly I feel that a Trump presidency would be an awful stain on the history of both this country and planet as a whole.

You may not like Clinton, but she’s undoubtedly the lesser of two evils in this situation. You will not convince me otherwise. But beyond Trump’s bigotry and blatant racism is the topic that some people are bothered by oppressed people expressing their displeasure.

Kaepernick’s protest is viewed as a lack of respect for this country. If anything, it’s the antithesis of this. It’s a statement of disappointment. America IS the land of opportunity for all and CAN be the cultural melting pot that creates such great multicultural cities like New York. Kaepernick, and so many others, feel like this expectation is not yet being met when injustice is prevalent and people like Keith Scott are shot and killed. The genius of this particular form of protest is just how divisive it has been. America as a country is so proudly patriotic that going against the tradition of patriotically saluting the flag and anthem causes uproar in a way it wouldn’t anywhere else. And it’s 100 percent peaceful. So many people are taking notice, other players have joined in, even in other sports like Megan Rapinoe for the U.S. women’s national soccer team, this is only just beginning. If the American public reacts to this correctly, it should be a cause to unite around. Safety and protection for all citizens is simply a right that the constitution is supposed to protect.

But who am I to comment on this? A foreigner in your country who doesn’t have a direct connection to this issue. Maybe, then, I can comment on it objectively. I have grown to love this place so much, and hate the fact that it can be so divided. If we can bring everyone back together, and eliminate issues like this, we really can make America great again.*

*No Trump necessary.