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FEARLESS: On the Field, On the Bench, On his Knee, or Out of the League, Colin Kaepernick is a Game-Changer

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Opinion |  Khalil Hakim
Managing Editor | Liz Frank

No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.

-Muhammad Ali aka THE G.O.A.T.

We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those. I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed.

-Colin Kaepernick

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, Colin Kaepernick, will never, and I mean never, play another game for The National Football League, on any team! Yup, I said it, and I believe it wholeheartedly.

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If there was ever a glimmer of hope that Kaepernick would suit up for the NFL again, his most recent comments after the not guilty verdict in the murder of Philando Castille put that to rest. On Twitter, he said, “A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled!”

He even had the heart and beautiful audacity to double down by posting a picture that made the historically correct comparison between the police and slave-catchers. This sent many white Americans into a major hissy fit. Their anger and denials won’t change the truth: Kaepernick wasn’t lying.

The history of police is that of controlling blacks and Native Americans. The history traces back to slave patrollers and Indian Constables. According to Dr. Victor Kappeler, “Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities.”

America, let’s be informed instead of opinionated.

After his historical lesson of the origins of the police to Twitter, I heard Kaepernick saying, “Nah, I’m done, Y’all can have it. I’m out. I got bigger fish to fry!” If you think, after reading this piece, that Kaepernick will play in the NFL again, then you just don’t understand America and systemic racism.

My personal hero, Muhammad Ali, understood systemic racism completely when he refused to go into the U.S. Army:

My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor, hungry people in the mud, for big, powerful America. Shoot them, for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me. They never put no dogs on me. They never robbed me of my nationality, or raped and killed my mother and father. … How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.

This is one of the things that made Ali the G.O.A.T., his fearless and truthful rhetoric that spoke truth to power.

But Ali wasn’t the only one. In the 1970s black men like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was fearless brothers too. They risked notoriety and earning power by speaking out against racism in America They provided an example to young black boys in poverty to have souls and to be fearless.

These heroes attempted to inform us that it was okay to be black and be damn proud of it. I realized, through these figures, my place in society and received racial validation for myself. They stood up and said, “This is wrong” and “We will not sit quietly by and act like it’s okay!” They were not afraid of losing endorsements or being blackballed from the League.

These Black men were FEARLESS.

Most of today’s black athletes are nothing more than overpaid, commercial icons, who are more concerned with building their personal brand than speaking out against the injustices that plague the very communities that a vast majority of them come from.

75 percent of the players in the NBA are black, and 70 percent of NFL players are black. The NBA and the NFL are billion dollar monopolies. Both leagues have no problem showcasing their black stars. Stars like Lebron James, Russell Wilson, Kevin Durant, Cam Newton, and Steph Curry are marketed to boost sales. Both Leagues make millions of dollars from the celebrity of these black athletes in the form of jersey and merchandise. Players do not profit from merchandise sales.

Both Leagues have a financial interest in promoting their black stars. This is what we call “economic leverage.”

“The Washington Post” reported that black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be shot by the police. “The Post” also reported that an unarmed black man is seven times more likely than a white man to die by police gunfire.

Why doesn’t the NFL or the NBA address the issue of unarmed black men being killed by police?

Since both Leagues benefit immensely from the sweat-equity of black men, why shouldn’t the Leagues speak out on black American’s behalf? Since seven out of 10 players are black, the moral and obvious thing the Leagues should be doing with their media power addresses the social and economic challenges that affect the people that look like the most of its players.

If the star players, from both Leagues, United, maybe through a Black Athletes Union, to demand that the Leagues support a change to the social and economic landscape of black communities, under threat of a strike.

They could demand the end of mass incarceration of black men, which in reality is just the “new Jim Crow”? Or demand the complete dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline?

Unfortunately, many athletes think all they need to do to contribute to their community is to wear a T-shirt that says “I CANT BREATHE” and host a basketball or football camp in their “home” city.

Athletic careers are private endeavors and being an advocate for social justice would damage their marketability. Marketability seems to be their only concern. You can still buy a Kaepernick jersey for $99 at NFLshop.com. The message to Kaepernick and any other athlete who chooses to speak out for social justice is evident: You can’t play for me, but I can still make money off of your celebrity. To the NFL, if it makes dollars it makes sense, controversy be damned.

You have to be FEARLESS to threaten your commercial appeal for racial or social causes. It doesn’t take heart to take the final shot to win a game, nor does it take the soul to lead a game-winning fourth quarter drive. Most players’ life mottos, like most Americans, are about individualism. There only concerned about me and mine, not the community or bettering society. Yet we all flock to their games, buy their jerseys, and debate which one is “the best.” These athletes have sold their voice for Bentleys, mansions, clothes, and fame.

Since Kaepernick’s most recent statements, talkingheads like Albert Breer are leaking reports from sources in the 49ers organization saying that “there were examples where coaches saw what looked like shoddy prep surfacing in inexplicable mental errors in games.”

According to Breer, another staffer said, after being asked if he thinks Kaepernick wants to keep playing, “I do think he wants to play — to stay relevant.”

These type of attacks don’t surprise me. At all. These attacks to his work ethic are simple-minded attempts to deflect from the issue he is actually bringing awareness to. White America consistently tries to de-legitimize or minimize black folk by calling them lazy. Black folks weren’t the people who sailed thousands of miles to enslave people to work for free. If they admire work ethic so much, why didn’t they pick that cotton themselves?

Most recently ex-NFL player, turned analyst, Ray Lewis stated that Kaepernick can’t be both activist and a football player. (Listen 19:30 – 21:05)

Ray-Ray, have you ever heard of a guy called Muhammad Ali?

New York Giants president and co-owner John Mara said that signing Kaepernick would have caused a severe fan backlash. He stated that he “never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue” all apparently imploring him to not sign Kaepernick. This is the same organization that signed kicker Josh Brown to a new contract after he was arrested for domestic violence. After Brown’s admittance of abuse was made public, Mara said, “We’re aware of all the allegations, and I believe all the facts and circumstances, and we’re comfortable with our decision to re-sign him.”

But five days later, amid strong public pressure, the Giants released Brown for domestic violence. Bizarrely and hypocritically Mara said, after releasing Brown, “We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh.” This is the same league that disingenuously salutes women and advocates for a cure for breast cancer.

It’s extraordinary that Mara says he heard from more fans about Kaepernick — a player who doesn’t play for his franchise, who didn’t do anything illegal — than about Brown a known domestic abuser, who he released after public outcry. Mara’s comments say a lot about Kaepernick’s continued unemployment: For many teams, the decision not to sign Kaepernick may go beyond whether the coach or General Manager thinks Kaepernick can help on the field. This is a political decision made by many owners, who fear Kaepernick would hurt the franchise off the field.

What is evident is that Kaepernick really doesn’t care about playing in the NFL anymore. Contrary to popular belief there are far more important things going on in America that NFL football and Kaepernick has more to offer America than his arm. He has submerged himself into the fight for social justice, specifically ending of police brutality in America. On his website http://kaepernick7.com/, he promotes his “Know Your Rights Camp” which is a free camp for youth to encourage higher education, promote self-empowerment, and provide instruction on how to properly interact with law enforcement.

Kaepernick is carrying the torch of his predecessors — black men who stood for something bigger than themselves. I believe this intelligent, well-spoken, young man is also a game-changer and has sparked the Rebirth of Fearless.

Kap sat down first then took a knee an folks got the nerve to say we in the land of the free: critics rant an rave while vets get more love when they in the grave

-excerpt from Excuse Me I Got Something To Say by Khalil Hakim

 

A man who stands for nothing … will fall for anything.

-Malcom X

 

 

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