49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken to kneeling during the national anthem and athletes throughout the sports world have joined in the movement.
Kaepernick’s peaceful protest has had a divisive effect on the public; some applaud his bravery and voice support while others have labeled him unpatriotic and sent him death threats.
In response to the controversy, Santa Clara students and faculty within the Ethnic Studies department weighed in on the protest and offered their insight.
Dr. Anthony Hazard, a Baltimore native and diehard Ravens fan, believes Kaepernick’s protest is sincere.
“His protest is genuine. The responses from either side say more about us as a country than they do about his actual protest. This protest is a way to signal that something is very, very wrong (in our country). It’s not meant to disrespect the flag itself,” Hazard said. “(And) the fact that he’s willing to further risk his standing in the sports community, in terms of making money outside of the actual football stadium through endorsements, (shows that this is not just a publicity stunt)”.
Senior Nhada Ahmed also thinks Kaep’s protest is authentic. Ahmed hails from Santa Clara and says her family has remained a loyal 49ers household through the team’s highs and lows.
“The entire point of a protest is to bring attention to an issue by disrupting social norms or people’s routines,” Ahmed said. “(Kaepernick) isn’t even doing anything disrespectful or deviant—he’s just kneeling instead of standing.”
It’s hard to ignore Kaep’s protest when it’s being analyzed and critiqued by every media station in the country on a continuous loop. This is why Ahmed said, “There’s no way (the protest) is inconsequential.”
“You cannot turn on the television … without race being discussed,” Dr. Hazard said. “It seems that society is so separated and living in different worlds when it comes to race and racism. The first step would be for people to recognize that this stuff is actually happening and that it’s real and that for some of us it happens every day. You can’t just take off your blackness for a few hours. For anyone who wants to improve the country, the (first step) is to realize what is going on and I think Kaep has really helped with that.”
And as for those who claim Kaep is unpatriotic? Hazard laughed, “The flag represents the founding philosophies (like freedom of speech). Kaep stands on the shoulders of those who created this tradition of dissent that defines our country’s existence.”
In other words, Colin Kaepernick’s protest is about as American as it gets. Those who disagree might reflect on these words written by Thomas Paine in 1776: “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
Contact Claire McLoughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.