The NFL, Colin Kaepernick and the Rise of Social Activist Athletes
The story of Colin Kaepernick's position on police brutality in America and his choice to take a knee while the national anthem played during the 2016 NFL season has been covered by the media, argued about by the talking heads and discussed by citizens far and wide. Many people that support Colin Kaepernick, myself included #imwithkap, have opted not to view or attend NFL games. Imagine my surprise when Donald Trump decided to weigh in on the issue, not of police accountability to all citizens of this country, but that individuals who protest, might I add peacefully, should be fired.
There is little doubt that the conversation will continue with these latest comments out of the White House discussed from every angle. But I hope that we, collectively, talk about the woeful record of police shootings and lack of convictions, the need for better applicant screening, officer training, implementation of a national registry of police shootings and those involved, as well as community engagement. Things we could have been discussing all along, instead of the appropriateness of the stage and if it was/is acceptable to protest by taking a knee. Everything but accountability. Some NFL players are proposing the league take a more active role in the issues affecting the community of color. These social activist athletes understand the makeup of the league, which is approximately 70% black and are looking to leverage that position to bring greater awareness to social issues in partnership with the league.
Now, not everyone is ready for substantive conversations about the issues brought out in this post, and that's okay. There is still something that you can do if you're struggling in this area. Use this as an opportunity to re-imagine a nation in which all people who live in it are free to share their opinion, to express themselves and exercise their right to peaceful protest. Doing so does not negate you or your perspective. This internal work allows you to get comfortable with the changes that are happening around you. As for the White House, let's all hope for a more reasoned and measured approach to issues, both at home and abroad. We need that style of leadership now more than ever.
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