Why that rich, adopted NFL player needs to sit down

I don't follow football, or sports in general, but this week it has been impossible to avoid the anger and backlash to Colin Kaepernick's decision to stay seated during the national anthem. In an interview, the 49ers player cited his reasons:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick, like many in our country, is tired of the pattern of oppression against black people in our country and decided to use his public platform as an NFL player to make a statement . . . and it certainly worked. However, it seemed to have ignited an angry mob of people who feel that he should be fired for exercising this right to protest. People on facebook and twitter have called for his suspension, and he has also been victim to an onslaught of racist harassment online. (It's not hard to see the irony when people are suggesting he's overreacting about oppression against black people in this country and calling him the N word at the same time. Kind of proving his point.)

What is interesting to me, though, is not the chant of the angry racist mob, but rather the number of "concerned" folk who are suggesting that Kaepernick doesn't have the right to say anything because he's rich. He makes a million dollars a year! He was adopted by white parents! He's wealthy! He's had it easy! What does he know about oppression??

All of these comments display the commonly-held confusion between socio-economic privilege and racial privilege. They aren't the same. Him being rich, or adopted, or having two white parents, or going to college on scholarship  . . . none of that shields him from racial discrimination. He's still black if he gets pulled over, black when he goes to the store, black when he gets called the N word on twitter all week this week. He's protesting racial discrimination. Not poverty or lack of opportunity. 

He is not anti-military or anti-police, he is anti-oppression. And if someone being anti-oppression makes you angry, well . . . methinks thou doth protest too much.

Wanting your country to be better does not make you unpatriotic. For the love, Trump centered his entire campaign around the premise that the country needs improvement. So why are so many of his fans up in arms that Kaepernick is suggesting that some shit ain't right? Isn't that exactly what Trump built a platform on?

I also find it really curious that so many of the same Christians who read the bible totally literally when it comes to homosexuality are up in arms about someone not standing for a national anthem or a classroom letting kids opt out of saying the pledge. How are so many Christians ready to quote Leviticus 18;22 but seemingly unfamiliar with the passage in Matthew where Jesus TOTALLY FORBIDS OATHS. Because if we are gonna adhere to every prescriptive in the bible, I think Jesus just said that the pledge of allegiance is Satanic. (Like, for real. He does.)

If you are outraged that he's not standing for the national anthem, that's your right, just as it's his right to be outraged over systemic racism and voice that concern by sitting. But don't assume that being adopted or wealthy provides him with some kind of shield against racism. A quick look at what he's been called on twitter will show that isn't the case. And if you think that black kids adopted by white folks or black kids who grew up upper-middle-class are automatically exempt from enduring microaggressions and greater suspicion as people of color, well . . . I can speak from experience that this is not the case. 

Racism is alive and well in our country right now, and no amount of opportunity or wealth or white parents will shield a black man from that racism. And until that isn't the case, Kaepernick feels the need to sit. And I respect that.

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