Kaepernick causes controversy by sitting down during the national anthem

Do you agree with Kaepernick's choice to sit during the National Anthem?

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recently caused controversy by choosing to sit down during the National Anthem, doing so to protest the mistreatment of people of color. He began this protest at a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

The player said to the NFL Media that he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” He said that to him, “this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on [his] part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

His team showed their support in a statement saying they “recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not,” in standing for the National Anthem and at the same time acknowledging the importance of the anthem and the way it honors those who fight for our country.

The NFL said that “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

Kaepernick isn’t the only professional sports player to take a stand against racial inequality. NBA players Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony have also taken political stands supporting this national issue.

This isn’t his only way of showing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Kaepernick shows his support daily on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

A specific topic that Kaepernick advocates against is police brutality. At a recent practice, Kaepernick wore socks depicting cartoon pigs wearing police uniforms. He walked on to the field proud with his fist in the air, a symbol of support for justice and unity.

Some fans are showing their disapproval by burning his jersey and other memorabilia linked to Kaepernick. They feel that not showing respect for America’s flag is an inappropriate way of making a political statement. Others stand with Kaepernick, showing support on Twitter and other social media platforms. He has gotten specific support from current and veteran military who say they’re fighting for him and his right to choose to sit for the injustice shown in the United States, so much that there is even a hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick.

As for Hillsborough students, there a wide range of opinions on the 49ers player and his way of protesting. Freshman Destiny Feliciano doesn’t think it’s an effective way to protest. “It’s [our] National Anthem so you should stand up and sing because it’s respecting your flag,” she said.

Other students agree with Kaepernick’s actions. “Sometimes I don’t stand up, sometimes I do,” said sophomore Elesha Ousney.  “Sometimes I say the pledge, sometimes I don’t. It’s just how I feel about it.”

Fellow sophomore Marcos Arias said that he “doesn’t agree with not standing for the National Anthem, but [he] sees both sides of the story.” He adds that while he can see why Kaepernick is upset over the police brutality happening, he doesn’t believe the police officers committing the crimes against black men and women represent the U.S. as a whole.

Agreeing with the Kaepernick’s stance, senior Kathleen Sloan said that “if you feel like [our] country’s not giving respect to everyone as equals then you shouldn’t have to be held accountable for not standing.”

While Kaepernick’s actions are controversial, many students agree that the controversy isn’t necessary but the discussion it’s creating is positive for our country and its progress.

Even through all of the criticism, Kaepernick remains proud and aware of his actions and their consequences. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right,” he said.

Growing up an adopted child of two white parents, Kaepernick has faced many instances of racial prejudice. He stands for those who don’t have a voice to speak on the injustice and will continue not to stand. “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country, I’ll stand,” said Kaepernick.