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Did Colin Kaepernick's Protest Help or Hurt Black Men In America?

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It’s been approximately two years since Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the national anthem to bring awareness and to protest against police brutality.  His peaceful protest has garnered support and criticism from people of all races and political affiliations around the world and it has definitely shined the light on the issue of race here in America.


In an effort to keep NFL protesters from following in Colin’s footsteps, the NFL recently implemented a new policy that condemns players from protesting from the sidelines during the national anthem. The league will issue a fine to any player who they judge is “disrespecting” the flag by not standing. As an alternative, the league says a player has the right to protest, but to do so he must stay in the locker room if he is unwilling to stand during the anthem.


This new policy contradicts everything America is supposed to stand for. The 1st Amendment clearly states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Herein lies the hypocrisy of the leagues new policy. The founding fathers felt it was important to give every human being the freedom and the right to free speech and peaceful protest. Yet the new policy does just the opposite. It punishes players who are exercising their constitutional rights.


On the surface it appears this country is headed in the wrong direction in regards to race. We have a president who refuses to condemn the actions of a neo-Nazi hate group, we have far too many incidences of police brutality, we have black men being arrested in coffee shops simply because of the color of their skin and we have a country that has not figured out that diversity is actually its greatest asset.


Based on these things alone I can understand why there is so much pessimism and negativity in regards to race. And yet I remain optimistic about the future of race relations in this country. I remain optimistic because of people like Colin Kaepernick. People who choose to take a stand (or a knee) for something and are willing to do whatever it takes to insure that this country lives up to its promise of being land of the free and home of the brave.


I’m reminded of a quote by Dr. Steven Covey from his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in which he stated, “seek first to understand, and then be understood.” This quote truly captures how American society could address race relations going forward, and use Colin’s protest as an opportunity for growth and transformation.


At first glance, it is understandable why so many people are upset about Colin not standing for the national anthem. To some, it appears that he is disrespecting the flag and this country. This is the result of mainstream media focusing on some comments made by the current president. Here are just a few of his comments which took the issue away from police brutality and reframed it into an issue of disrespecting the flag. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"  Yes, that is a direct quote from the president of the United States!


Although the protest was never about disrespecting the flag or our country, once the president made that comment the media ran with it and it didn’t take long for his comments to become the focus of the protest. If we are willing to look a little deeper and fully understand the motives of his protest we would see that it has always been about the unnecessary killing of black men in America and in no way does that disrespect our country.


As I am reminded of the incidences of police brutality against black men in this country, I can immediately empathize with Colin’s protest. I can relate to his anger, frustration, and sadness about watching too many men of color needlessly lose their lives, and then have their perpetrators walk away without being held accountable for their actions. Understanding breeds compassion, and if we are willing to simply see this point of view, then we can recognize that this is the core of his protest. No matter how the media attempts to frame Colin’s demonstration, I believe this is the primary reason he refused to stand.


This leads us to the question: Is Colin’s protest unpatriotic? Herein is the great American hypocrisy. The dictionary defines a patriot as: “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Isn’t this exactly what Colin is attempting to do? He recognizes that American citizens are being killed and he is taking a stand against this crisis. How can this be viewed as unpatriotic? His actions are the highest form of patriotism. He is willing to not only sacrifice his livelihood for what he believes, he is actually willing to put his life on the line (he has received several death threats) in an attempt to make America better by bringing attention to the fact that too many men of color are being senselessly and unnecessarily killed.


According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report (www.bleacherreport.com), several NFL league officials actually hate Colin and his stance. Here are just a few quotes from top NFL officials: "I don't want him anywhere near my team," one executive told Freeman. "He's a traitor." Said another exec, "He has no respect for our country. F— that guy." And from a general manager, "In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick."


So, is it patriotic for a man to be hated simply because he is attempting to stop the killing of innocent Americans? Think about that for a moment.


In regards to the military, this is what they fight for. Service men and women fight for our right to speak out, defend our country, and use our freedom of speech to help improve this country. They aren’t fighting for us to be silent when it comes to addressing issues within the confines of America. If we aren’t willing to speak out to make America better, should that not be considered unpatriotic?


In a lot of ways, the Colin Kaepernick story is a microcosm of being a black man in America. On one hand, if we take a stand and speak out against social injustice, we are accused of being angry black men who hate America. On the other hand, if we aren’t attempting to resolve the problems in our own communities, we are called lazy and indifferent to the challenges of black men in America.


As I’ve watched and listened to some of the opinions voiced by black men, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Colin. There are some black men who attacked and vilified him for his stance while others embraced and supported his decision to protest. As a man who happens to be black, I can definitely relate to this conundrum. For most of my life, I have been accused of being a sellout because of my optimism and belief that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, even if you’re black. I have been criticized, ostracized, and accused of being blind to the challenges facing black men in this country.


Sometimes it feels like a no win situation. But you can’t please everyone, so it’s important to be clear on what you stand for and not be affected by the thoughts and opinions of others.


And now I would like to answer the question I posed at the beginning: Is Colin Kaepernick helping or hurting black men in America? I believe he is definitely helping black men, and more importantly, he is helping America. I say this because his actions ignited a debate about police brutality and race and a few years from now, I believe he will be recognized and acknowledged for his willingness to take a stand (or in this case a knee) against an issue that has been pushed under the American rug for far too long. In the long run, I believe he will be recognized as a powerful change agent whose actions moved this country forward and ultimately created the change he wanted to see.


Thank you, Colin Kaepernick for teaching me that you do not necessarily have to stand up in order to love your country. You can kneel and love your country even when most people around you will accuse you of being a traitor.

I choose to kneel with you!








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@Coach Michael Taylor, I'm not convinced there is a binary response to your question. Perhaps the answer is neither. 


From a personal perspective Colin's actions, outside of providing fodder for conversation, have not had an impact on my life, one way or the other.  I'm sure the likelihood of being gunned down by law enforcement has not changed.


Are you aware of any policies that have changed as a direct result of Colin's taking a knee?  


Do you think Colin, in his heart of hearts, would have taken a knee if he knew it would result in his being Blackballed from the NFL?  Maybe he would have found an more effective way to effect change.  

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Are you aware of any policies that have changed as a direct result of Colin's taking a knee?


And the answer to that question determines the effectiveness of Colin's actions.

It's a shame but those mostly Caucasian kids from the Parkland highschool shooting  have been more effective in changing legislation and striking fear in the hearts of their adversaries in just their 4 or 5 months of demonstrating than AfroAmerican NFL players have been in their YEARS of kneeling and locking arms and begging for understanding.


Because those kids aren't going from school to school across America urinating on flags or bowing down and taking knees infront of flag poles nor are they making music videos where they dance around half naked........

In other words they aren't wasting time with confusing indirect methods that are basically useless except for pissing people off.

But what they ARE doing is taking DIRECT ACTION by calling out the local and national legislators as well as those in the media who are promoting guns and feeding gun violence.

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Guest QueenX

We sing the song, "This is my country,"but is it our country?We pay taxes   (which most rich white Americans don't want topay)?So is it our country?Then why is it our flag and why should we salute it?We're being murdered by blacks and whites and in some cases nothing is being done about it.And don't ever forget those black men who were lynched while wearing their uniforms when they came back from fighting in WWI andWWII Did they tell you about that on Memorial Day?What we got to be patriotic about?I'm proud of Kapernick because he cared more about his people than his profession.It takes a great man to make such a sacrifice.

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Del the reason is, as Paul Mooney would probably say, "Tim Tebow is not a nigger."   


QueenX, still I believe Colin would have found another way to deal with police brutality if thought his relatively innocuous action would have resulted in his dismissal. I'd also bet if he did this prior to the "era of 45," he would have gotten away with it -- it still wouldn't have made a difference -- but he'd probably still be in the NFL.


So no, I can't jump on the worship Colin bandwagon, because there are countless unheralded heroes grinding, everyday, making a difference in our communities, and no one sings their praises.  We all know them, you might even be one.


Again we can't use the oppressor's platforms as a tool for our liberation. In fact NOT using them is the best way to make a change.  Imagine if Black folks stop watching and betting on football -- for just one season. Supposed we (and all out allies) took it a step further and boycotted all the NFL sponsors?  Imagine the impact. 





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20 hours ago, Guest QueenX said:

We sing the song, "This is my country,"but is it our country?We pay taxes   (which most rich white Americans don't want topay)?So is it our country?Then why is it our flag and why should we salute it?We're being murdered by blacks and whites and in some cases nothing is being done about it.And don't ever forget those black men who were lynched while wearing their uniforms when they came back from fighting in WWI andWWII Did they tell you about that on Memorial Day?What we got to be patriotic about?I'm proud of Kapernick because he cared more about his people than his profession.It takes a great man to make such a sacrifice.

Elijah Muhammad taught that the entire Earth belongs to the Black man.

Queen I actually DO believe that this is our country as AfroAmericans.

The problem is most of us don't EXERCISE our civil rights as well as our Supreme Being given rights in this society and THAT is the main reason so many of our people are constantly victimized.

A good example of what I'm talking about are those Black war veterans you speak of who were lynched in their uniforms when they came back home.
Obviously I wasn't around back then and couldn't judge their behavior but.....

If you were trained to fight, shoot, and kill, and killed Germans and Japanese when they posed a threat to you in the war......why in the hell couldn't you fight and kill the KKK and lynch mobs who attacked you and your friends and family?

Another one would be AfroAmericans people who make it into positions of power in this nation but STILL don't do much to help their own.

How many cities have AfroAmerican mayors and have had them for decades but these mayors don't use their power and influence to funnel money and resources by the billions to AfroAmerican businesses and neighborhoods?

The victimized inferior mentality is a bigger enemy to our people than the concept of White supremacy.

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  • 5 weeks later...


but this will never happen unless white people throw us out -- all of us -- not just one or two

Perhaps that's JUST what they need to force them into action and put them into an ownership state of mind.

If Trump calling them "sons of bitches" wasn't enough....
If the conservative White owners sticking together to enact new rules forcing them to stand wasn't enough....

Perhaps an outright EXPULSION of all players who refuse to tow the line and replacing them with atheletes imported from Eastern Europe will be a big enough slap in the face to wake them up to thier position.

Sometimes being FORCED into circumstances against your desire and even against your will brings some of the BEST out of you.

When I look at the condition of AfroAmericans since the 60s and how we seem to have more "opportunities" today than we had 100 years ago.....but have less businesses and family values....I have to wonder.......

Was integration and White America giving us social and political benefits a sincere effort toward justice?

Or was it part of a plot to make us lazy and content because they know we do EXTREMELY well when our backs are up against the wall?

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Colin Kaepernick may not have affected widespread change in the life of black America at large, but as i continue to stress, he DRAMATIZED a grievance and agitated the country. The fact that he is still a relevant topic of conversation is, in itself, is a victory!  What he accomplished was to embarrass America into to realizing that its beloved flag doesn't live up to its promises.  That is the implicit take-away from his bending a knee and this makes patriotic Americans extremely uncomfortable.  That's a good thing in what is becoming a fascistic country. Nobody really believed his demonstration would suddenly turn racists cops into Office Friendlys, but without lifting a finger, Kaepernick became a thorn in the side those, who in all of their white law and order privilege, consider the boys in blue to be heroic paragons. 


Furthermore, NFL players and owners were all forced to do some soul searching and this may yet have a trickle-down effect.   

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I have to agree with Cynique. Although the impact of his protest may not be immediately apparent, his protest impacted the consciousness of this country in profound ways. It brought awareness to some very basic facts. There are still lots of people who are racists, our government isn't capable of addressing racial issues and our current president is absolutely clueless when it comes to race relations. But I still believe in the goodness of people and I still believe in this country.

As an optimist, I believe his protest actually accomplished his goal of bringing awareness to the issue of police brutality and eventually America will live up to the creed that all men are created equal.


I stand with Kaepernick!

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Tommie Smith and John CarlosLook, we all know Kaepernick's action will not have any impact whatsoever -- indeed it can be viewed as a catalyst for making things worse.  From day one I always asserted that nothing short of a boycott of the NFL will make any difference, but again we will never take this action.


Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the 1968 olympics, a seminal -- arguably a more profound action -- which has resonated for 50 years, but nonetheless has resulted in no significant change.


Muhammad Ali knowingly sacrificed his career and risked imprisonment refusing to go to Nam.  Kaepernick's action, while commendable, does not rise to Ali's actions.  Let's keep things in perspective. Colin was just some dude who got uppity, forgot who he worked for, and was summarily dismissed as a result (@Cynique wouldn't that meet your definition for "loser?")


@Coach Michael Taylor, people were already aware of police brutality -- it is constantly covered in the media. @Cynique, sure he agitated the country but his message and goal of his agitation was lost.  I was at a sporting event (car racing) recently and some red neck said everyone one here better stand for the flag. Again the meaning of Collins kneeling completely lost.


You can not use the tools of the master to effect change -- it is impossible. Colin tried to use the NFL has a platform and they erased him and used the media to pervert his message -- even sending in the VP of the United States to walk out on a game in protest -- taking Kaepernick's protest and twisting it into an issue of patriotism. 


If we had conscious Black-owned media perhaps the people actually doing things of consequence would be uplifted and celebrated and maybe Colin would still have a job entertaining, and enriching, the white folks who obviously don't give a shit about him or any of us.

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So my question to you is why does "black media" also focus primarily on negative news? Why do we still share stories that degrade us and put us down instead of stories that lift us up? No matter what good we do or experience we still hold on to this victim mentality that America or white people are holding us down. Why do people like myself get accused of being a sellout simply because of my optimism? Everyone is entitled to their opinion and here is mine. There has never been a better time to be alive on this planet than right now. I believe despite the obvious challenges, black men are positioned to experience unprecedented levels of success in the world today. I believe it is possible for any black man to live an extraordinary life and yet very few black men are even willing to read my books or come to my seminars because they simply do not believe they can succeed. The real problem is a mindset that is shaped by a negative biased media. Too many of us are unwilling to break free from this mindset and accept the fact that we are the masters of our own destiny and no one can keep us from attaining it except us.

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@Troy I don't give a lot weight to the profound long term effect of a boycott.  It would just pit black boycotters against retaliatory white boycotters inspired  to show loyalty to those who  cherish the American flag - as a symbol of white dominance.   Black people don't attend NFL games in great numbers so that would have no huge impact, and whether TV advertisers dropped these games would depend whether their sales plummeted because of black consumers not buying their products; something that white consumers could again offset.  Never under estimate white people flexing their muscles when it comes to those who mess with the revered symbols they associate with making America great.


Currently, I don't think Kaepernick even cares about securing a spot on a NFL team anymore.  To me, he scored a moral victory and became an award-winning folk hero and is in a position to take his concerns into another area.  


And, as courageous as the actions of Ali and Smith and Carlos were, I don't know that they had a great impact on change when it came to black men....


@Coach Michael Taylor  I suggest to you, that there are millions of black males who have followed your common sense advice on their own, and are doing OK for themselves.  They are who make up the black middleclass.  But some things never change.  While they are managing to survive in their glass-ceiling jobs and as business entrepreneurs, owning nice homes, maintaining 401Ks, sending their kids to college, their nice cars rather than being assets, can become  liabilities in the "driving while black" zone that is a real, not an imagined victimization.  Obama reached the pinnacle of achievement, but he was still the victim of racism. It ain't easy being black.  Optimism can only take you so far.


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@Cynique, I agree about the impact of Smith and Carlos, particularly over the long term.


I think it is obvious Kapernick cares very deeply about losing his job.  He never stopped trying to secure another position in the NFL and he is currently suing them for collusion -- a suit he will likely lose (not surprising since he is a "loser," right?)


As far as the long term impact of a draft  -- that is just a pipedream on my part, because, realistically, we will never boycott the NFL -- no matter how badly they treat us.  


On 6/30/2018 at 9:36 PM, Coach Michael Taylor said:

why does "black media" also focus primarily on negative news?


@Coach Michael Taylor, the answer is because it is more lucrative.  The old saying, If it bleeds it leads," comes to mind.


Have you ever observed anyone scrolling through their Instagram feed and observed what they were looking at?  This past spring I rode the NYC subway at least twice a week to commute to the college were I teach.   I've have had the occasion to observe people on social media.  They will spend their entire train ride scrolling through videos, memes, and photos.  The content the programmatically compiled feeds, designed to keep you engaged, is being pushed to them and they are just consuming it as fast as they can. 


There was a time were you would see people reading a newspaper and books on the subway.  Today you rarely see anyone reading a newspaper occasionally you'd see some weirdo reading a book... ;)



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3 hours ago, Troy said:

I think it is obvious Kapernick cares very deeply about losing his job.  He never stopped trying to secure another position in the NFL and he is currently suing them for collusion -- a suit he will likely lose (not surprising since he is a "loser," right?)

All these things are a strategy  that  keep his cause alive, keep his name in the news and make him a sympathetic underdog in the David vs Goliath saga. I don't think he's passionate about the game any more and would probably be surprised if a team signed him, something which would put him in the position of being "booed" by thousands of indignant white fans in stadiums all over the country every time he touched the ball.  His battle with the NFL  could almost be considered a draw; he came off as the good guy and they as the greedy fence sitting bad guys. Their ratings dropped,  he got a lucrative book contract, all kind of accolades and is financially secure.

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Cynique I guess neither of can truly know what is in the brother head.  However as time goes on his value to the NFL declines. He is not more of a scapegoat than a martyr.


Even with the book deal, Colin took a big financial hit and accolades don't pay bills.  Besides all successful quarterback get book deals, and I'm not sure how will the book will do given the fact white men will probably not support it very well. 


The long term prospects of the NFL look very good they are looking to expand into foreign markets and revenue growth looks good as well.


I'm also not holding my breath waiting for any ad buys on this the largest website dedicated to books written by or about Black people.



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13 hours ago, Cynique said:

All these things are a strategy  that  keep his cause alive, keep his name in the news and make him a sympathetic underdog in the David vs Goliath saga. I don't think he's passionate about the game any more and would probably be surprised if a team signed him,


@Cynique  If so, it's a damn good strategy because he's still in the news and focus of attacks make him the underdog since it was his kneeling that cost him his job.  I'm not sure he ever was passionate about football.  I think he's just so good at it the NFL had to have him just-in-case his skill made him a household name.  He is a household name, now, since they made such a big deal of athletes kneeling in protest of DT administration.


31 minutes ago, Troy said:

'm also not holding my breath waiting for any ad buys on this the largest website dedicated to books written by or about Black people.


@Troy:  What are you doing to attract the Black audience?  Black folks are out there needing a site like AALBC.com; if for nothing more than to let off steam.  It's hard to believe you're not effectively trying every possible avenue to get subscriptions of angry, discouraged, and activists Black folks.  Are you at least appealing to Black politicians who share the views here?

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@Kalexander2, Black celebrities, politicians, and wannabees are not trying to engage on an indie Black owned platform.  They derive their validation from the larger white-owned corporate platforms.  I understand this because success on Twitter, for example -- no matter how elusive -- would be far more lucrative than it would be here.


It would take a critical mass of users, over the long term, from that demographic for the real monetary benefit to accrue to them on this platform and they are not going to make that investment.  That would be only a bit more likely than Black folks starting their own football league...


Now of course if Barack Obama posted here people would come here to read what he wrote, but as far as I can tell he didn't give a single Black owned newspaper an interview, so why would he post here?


At the end of the day, even authors who would benefit most will invest energies in the Facebook and Amazon owned websites.  This is a mistake, for collectively would could do much better than giving all of our energy and money to Facebook and Amazon, but it is hard to get people to understand this.


People are too young to know, or too uninterested to read, about all the Black owned businesses that thrived prior to and shortly after segregation.  


As far as, "effectively trying every possible avenue," no man, I have not done this I'm doing all I can do just to maintain this site.  Portions of it our down right now, so I don't have to the time to try "every possible avenue."  I do what I an with the time that I have. 


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@Troy:  In one instance you speak of inaccessibility to the Black audience because they are unwilling to spend money and; in another instance, you say Black folks are just not interested in AALBC.com because there's no attraction; and still about issues with design/operability of the site as not having time to explore other avenues.  Get angry if you want, man, I don't care!  But it seems to me you have more excuses than ideas for solutions. 


The site caught my interest almost immediately while I was researching book various indie publishing and editors.  And I see a lot of great discussions happening here, even/and especially the bickering and viciousness.  You obviously love the site and expect more from it but make seem to make a lot of excuses.  

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K2 if I had more excuses than Ideas I would have already given up.  Does that make sense?


Of course I love the site and obviously expect more from it.  What you are describing as excuses, would be more accurately described as challenges. I'm not angry, I'm just trying to be honest about these challenges. 


It is hard to help people appreciate the challenges, unless you have built a "conscious" website and tried to make money from it, if is difficult to explain.  


But I don-t see myself giving up anytime soon -- despite the challenges 🙂

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