Colin Kaepernick’s sit-down protest of the national anthem was an important moment in the history of politics in athletics, but it had one predictable, undeniably negative effect — the backlash of hot takes. Takes that (at best) completely misunderstand the nature of protest, saying they respect Kaep’s opinion but, in various white person ways, asking him to please quiet down and respect the flag and find some other, less confrontational and less effective means of protest.
Now, out of left field comes a completely different bad take from Rodney Harrison, experienced purveyor of bad takes. As a black American, one wouldn’t expect him to approach the Kaepernick issue from the same angle as white reactionaries. Even allowing for that, his stance on Kaep is baffling on so many levels. From an iHeartRadio interview:
“I tell you this, I’m a black man. And Colin Kaepernick — he’s not black. He can not understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face, or people of color face, on a every single (day) basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up in to a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you about to steal something.
“You know, I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.”
Lest Rodney put the seed of doubt in you, Kaepernick’s birth father was black, which means Colin is black. And even if you extend Harrison more credit than he deserves and assume he implied that Kaepernick “passes” as white and avoids the daily abuses and indignities most black Americans do, Harrison is in no position to judge that. That very hypothetical may have played out in Colin’s life; heck, Kaep caught a lot of flak for his tattoos, something that inked-up white athletes never seem to hear about.
Lightness of skin can be a delicate issue in the black community, and one that deserves a more thorough explanation than we have time for here. All we can say is, Rodney Harrison should probably shut up about it.