As I sat in the car on the way to Oakland on Sunday morning it occurred to me that a decision I never gave much thought to was going to carry extra consequences and significance on this particular afternoon.
The 90-minute drive from Sacramento to the O.Co Coliseum was longer that day thanks to traffic, and more jovial than usual thanks to a stunning win in New Orleans for the Raiders one week prior. The anticipation was palpable, and for the first time in over a decade it seemed like the Oakland Raiders were going to be a respectable football team, talented enough to actually invest in as a fan.
But as conversations often do between people of color, our joking and gleeful bragging about Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper eventually gave way to more weighty topics like systematic oppression, police brutality, real-estate redlining, slavery, forced assimilation of Native Americans, the North Dakota pipeline controversy and all sorts of issues that hung over our heads even when we didn’t want them to. There we sat, a Mexican/Native American and a black man, relatively young, discussing topics that are typically taboo, seen as complaining and griping. Naturally, thanks to national chatter and our geographical location in Northern California as well as the fact that we were driving to an NFL game, the name Colin Kaepernick came up, as did the national anthem, protesting and every thing else.