For the past two years, Colin Kaepernick has been an avatar in the fight for social justice in America. He’s also been a lightning rod for all the backlash. Since his controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem at football games, he’s been simultaneously praised and derided. Now, the former NFL quarterback is out of a job, blackballed by a league that refused to stand behind him as he exercised that most cherished of American rights: freedom of speech.
A certain sector of fans – along with right-wing media, several team owners, and even the president – have criticized him as un-American. They’ve erected a straw-man argument that falsely equates Kaepernick’s protest to disrespect for our military and/or hatred of America itself.
They ignore the underlying message: that Kaepernick is using his platform to fight for equality, for equal protection under the law for people of color who have been routinely murdered by police without consequence. And because the NFL is more concerned about its brand image and its bottom line, they’ve collectively distanced themselves from him, as have many sponsors.