Celebrities, athletes, and musicians are no stranger to politics. Many famous individuals in America attempt to use their position in the spotlight to advance certain political agendas. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers is no different. Kaepernick caused an uproar after refusing to stand for the National Anthem. His reason for this was to protest racial inequality and oppression towards blacks.
However well-meaning Kaepernick’s publicity stunt may have been, it will not achieve the intended results.
If Kaepernick’s goal was to raise awareness for the cause of racial equality, he failed. While some claim he has ignited discussion, he has actually distracted from it. With racial inequality still in existence, we should be raising questions as to why it exists. Is there a police brutality problem? Does government administration contribute? What about legislation?
There are a number of factors that contribute to racial inequality and other social problems. But sitting down during the National Anthem doesn’t fix them.
To be clear, the problem wasn’t so much that Kaepernick remained seated during the National Anthem at the football game – that choice was his right, disrespectful or not. The real problem was his method of trying to raise awareness for an unrelated issue by doing just that.
Instead of debating racial inequality and contributing factors, we’re distracted by a debate about the National Anthem. While this is a discussion worth having, it’s not one that is relevant to the cause of racial equality. While the flag, the National Anthem, and related symbols of significance do represent the United States of America, they are not the actual oppressors.
Does the American flag arrest more blacks than whites for drug related crimes? At worst, it’s just a piece of cloth, and at best, it’s a symbol of the United States of America. Either way, it is not the actual object, organization, or person that committed the oppression.
The same could be said of a song. What did the National Anthem do to oppress blacks or other minorities? It’s not a song that endorses violence of any kind. It doesn’t endorse a racist message or advance any racist stereotypes. It’s a patriotic message.
While there can be arguments made for or against standing for the National Anthem, these arguments being made in a fresh debate are not relative to the topic of minority oppression. This is the point that escapes San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his many defenders. The act itself of not standing for the National Anthem may be a debate worth having, but it’s a distraction from the point of why it was done. A patriotic song, a significant piece of cloth, and other symbols are not the actual oppressors.
When dealing with oppression and trying to stop it, the best recourse is to stop the source of the oppression. The slaves weren’t freed by sitting during the National Anthem or fighting a flag. The cause of equality was advanced by addressing the source of oppression and correcting the problem.