Based on the way people are reacting to Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem and confusing it with disrespect for the nation’s military and everything the flag stands for, I feel like I need to break some news to y’all.
Sources familiar with the situation are indicating that it’s just not that deep, fam.
As a matter of fact, here’s a handy graphic showing you how deep it’s not:
What’s happened here is pretty clear. People, white people in particular, have ignored the statement Kaepernick was trying to make regarding the way black people are treated by the police and decided to have the red herring discussion of how disrespectful he was to the military.
I’ve even heard the argument that by not saluting the flag he is disrespecting everyone who’s ever fought defending. This argument has been circulating unironically, as people neglect to realize that part of what our military tries to defend is the right to do things like peaceful protest. And apparently Kaepernick comes from the Rosa Parks school of thought that says the best way to peacefully protest is to sit your black ass down while the white people around you lose their minds.
But the timing of this is interesting, as there hasn’t been any one incident of excessive police violence that has recently dominated the national conversation. Maybe Kaepernick just went down the depressing-ass Youtube rabbit hole of police killings that I refuse to go down myself and came out with a new perspective. However he reached his enlightenment, the decision to address it the way he did shows a level of fearlessness on his part, a fearlessness that was not shared by his teammates as they all responded with some variety of “he’s entitled to his own opinion.”
But while his teammates at least didn’t do anything stupid like forget Kaepernick was black or revealing yourself to be a resident of masta’s house, there doesn’t appear to be too much support for someone who has been very clear about what he is and is not taking a stand against when asked by the media that surrounded his locker after the third game of the preseason.
People are still looking for ways to make the flag into some untouchable symbol beyond criticism while pretending the Star-Spangled Banner is the hottest track ever recorded. Let’s be real: that song is in desperate need of a remix. Maybe Desiigner can do some ad-libs. Have Funk Master Flex throw in some bomb drops over “the bombs bursting in air” part of the song. Dr. Dre can remix the national anthem to build anticipation for his forthcoming album that never comes. Beyonce and hologram Whitney Houston can team up on the vocals. Big Sean can spit a fire verse at the end, only to be upstaged again when Kendrick spits his verse. DJ Khaled can say something ridiculous and patriotic as the song fades out. (“They don’t want us to dump the tea in the harbor, so we dumped the tea in the harbor. That’s a major key.”) If we do this right, this can be the hottest posse cut since “We are the World.”
The idea of having a full on remix of a national anthem is ridiculous, if for no other reason than hologram Whitney Houston would sing Beyonce under the table and cause wars to break out in the hashtags on Black Twitter as the old heads argued with young bucks about who the better singer was.
However, turning Kaepernick’s stand for justice into an opportunity to get into an irrelevant debate about his respect for the country and the military is equally ridiculous and not nearly as funny.
One of the more interesting debates that has emerged from this is the discussion of whether Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality has failed. It’s too early to tell if it has failed, but if it does, it will be because his message was purposely mangled by those who would rather pretend to care about the troops more than they actually do than discuss the reality that a large segment of the populations views traffic stops as near death experiences.
I was originally going to write a really serious piece in which I would dismantle the thinly-veiled racism that surrounds the “shut up and play” narrative that has been used to discredit Kaepernick’s peaceful protest. If black people hadn’t been experiencing this since the days of Jack Johnson, I’d be more surprised and feel more compelled to talk about this without the jest.
I was even going to relate my own personal story about how San Francisco’s finest tried to jam me up one night, and the only thing that kept me from going to jail was the receipt I had in a shopping bag that proved I was where I said I was. (Shout out to Patrice O’Neal for teaching me how to prove my innocence.)
But, since we arrived at such a familiar place with Kaepernick’s protest, a discussion of the quality of our dated national anthem seems much more appropriate.
If Kap is anything like me, maybe he would feel better if a song that represented his black experience was playing. I bet we can get him to stand for the black national anthem.