Things have gotten weird when it comes to Colin Kaepernick, with people he is close to (girlfriend Nessa and Charlamagne Tha God) accusing Jason La Canfora and CBS of “fake news” when Jason La Canfora reported that Kaepernick would stand for the anthem.
La Canfora, who initially gave the impression that was based on a long sit-down interview when speaking on air, later said that it was based on past reporting and that he did not speak to Kaepernick specifically about standing last night.
Kaepernick also tweeted this:
But we want to be clear on what is and isn’t truth. What isn’t truth is that Kaepernick just told La Canfora, after the start of the NFL season and Trump’s recent activity, that he would be standing during any hypothetical anthem if he were part of the NFL.
What we can take at truth is that Kaepernick–or those around him–let it be known back in early March, as he was entering free agency, that he would no longer kneel.
For example, here is Dave Zirin of the Nation, who has frequently provided updates on Kaepernick’s activities and desire to play in the NFL, in a piece entitled “Colin Kaepernick Has Not Stopped Fighting Injustice Just Because He’s Stopped Kneeling”.
Now he says he will stand, and it has been shocking—although perhaps not surprising—to see the media backlash. The responses have been unified in their analysis: that Kaepernick is making this shift because he’s now a free agent looking for a team and is “selling out.” Some phrased their argument like this column from Ebenezer Samuel of the New YorkDaily News, a piece that’s written like an 800-word Trump tweet, headlined, “Colin Kaepernick a hypocrite as he ends national anthem protest now that he needs a new job.”
Even more measured, mainstream voices like Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk effectively had the same analysis, writing, “It’s hard not to be cynical and believe that Kaepernick is heading into free agency wanting to maximize his value and doesn’t want teams planning to bid on his services to view him as a distraction.”
First and foremost, I don’t see or hear any activists criticizing Colin Kaepernick — just talking heads. I don’t see anyone who actually puts their life on the line to stand up against injustice criticizing him. That’s not an accident. Anyone who leads protests knows full well that in order to be effective, you change your methods.
You tinker with your approach. You don’t march every single day. You march, then you boycott, then you build programs, then you do a sit in, then you host meetings. You mix it up. If you march every day, people tune you out and your actions become white noise. Every activist I know understands this. Colin understands this because he has the heart and soul of an activist. He is being advised and mentored by leaders from several different generations.
Lastly, I must address the notion that Colin Kaepernick has opted not to continue his protest in this way because “he needs a job.” I’ve seen and heard this criticism more than any others. First, if it was true, then it still wouldn’t offend me, because every single person reading this right now has had to quiet down their personal views to get or keep a job before. That he would somehow be a lesser man for doing what you know damn well you’ve done many times in your life is just plain dumb. We all make adjustments to get jobs or keep jobs. Period.However, the criticism is simply not true. Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers. He had a guaranteed contract with them and renegotiated out of it.
And his girlfriend, Nessa, also retweeted this article with commentary.
That article includes the following also confirming the ending of his national protest at the time.
Given all this, it’s not surprising Kaepernick decided to end his national anthem protest. He wants his football career to continue and he knows some teams are unlikely to sign him if he continues his protest. He’s also made his statement last year, so kneeling for the national anthem is unlikely to further the cause.
Kaepernick was willing to sacrifice sponsorships to make a protest statement, but unwilling to sacrifice his entire career, even though some believe his activisim proves he’s not dedicated to the game.
Now, it is fair to say that the environment has continued to change since early March. Kaepernick, it would seem, feels differently today.