Colin Kaepernick is in a battle against popular opinion.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback is refusing to stand for the national anthem before NFL games because he believes the United States oppresses African Americans and other minorities.
He sat on the team’s bench Friday night during the anthem before the Niners played host to the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game. No one bothered the QB as he separated himself from his teammates for a moment.
He had his reasons.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in an interview with NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick, who is biracial, was adopted and raised by White parents. He has been outspoken on his Twitter account on civil rights issues and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
To fully understand how Kaepernick feels, one would have to put themselves in his place. He has seen life in America from two different views — Black and White. It’s not an experience many can claim.
He’s an accomplished professional football player battling to win back the starting quarterback job that he lost last season to Blaine Gabbert. He’s also trying to impress a new coach, Chip Kelly, who wore out his welcome with the Eagles after three seasons.
Kaepernick has seen people in this country rejected and disrespected because their hue is dark. He has also seen people of a darker complexion exalted for doing something like throwing a touchdown pass or scrambling for a first down.
Sometimes, it can get confusing.
The 49ers said in a statement that “in respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
The National Football League, through a spokesman, said “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
Kaeperneck doesn’t care what his team or the league thinks. He isn’t worried about the consequences of his action. He feels that he’s doing what is right.
From where he’s at, he’s on the front line staring public opinion in the face.
And Colin Kaeperneck is not blinking.
The Associated Press contributed to this column