Colin Kaepernick Changing The Way We Speak Up

Closer Look: National Anthem Protest

Controversy Over Colin Kaepernick’s Social Injustice Message

San Francisco 49er’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, keeps making headlines with his refusal to stand for the National Anthem. Last night he once again took a knee. He says he's protesting social injustice in our country. This has sparked plenty of controversy. And now several other athletes are choosing to kneel during the anthem.

The controversy: Many people see Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem as a sign of disrespect for our country and our flag and a lack of patriotism. Many feel that he’s condemning the entire police force for the actions of a few. Other people feel that refusing to stand for the National Anthem disrespects the men and women who’ve fought for our freedom. It’s our freedom that has given Kapernick his freedom of speech. 

Whether you agree or disagree with Kaepernick's actions, he's starting a national conversation about social injustices. He wants to find ways to fix these problems. He pledged $1 million to organizations that address social injustice. The San Francisco Police Department has invited him to visit talk about his concerns. 

With all the negativity surrounding the controversy, there are positive aspects. 1) It’s a nonviolent protest, which is needed within our country. 2) People are talking about racism and police brutality. 3) People are bringing attention to patriotism – what it means individually and collectively 4) Many are talking about respecting individual rights to protest Defining what this looks like and sounds like. 

Ways Kaepernick Is Changing Mindsets About Speaking Up

Social change can start with just one person. Just look at Rosa Park, Cesar Chavez and Muhammad Ali for historical examples of times one person started a movement or took a stand.

It seems like San Franciso 49er, Colin Kaepernick may add himself to that list.  He refused to stand for the National Anthem during a preseason game to send the message that he's had enough of the social injustices. And now, after some backlash, it looks like Kaepernick's message is gaining momentum. 

Other professional athletes are kneeling or raising fists during the Anthem in solidarity. 

After receiving backlash Kaepernick’s message is gaining momentum as other NFL players are raising fists, kneeling or linking arms during the National Anthem.

Many people notice that Kaepernick's sit out got attention. Conversations are starting about racism and police brutality. It doesn't matter if the attention is positive or negative, it's definitely getting people talking. Wtih social change, that's the goal. Not only has Kaepernic pledged $1M to organizations dealing with social injustices, but 49ers owner, Jed York, has done the same. 

More NFL players, high school players and women's soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, followed suit. This is important because they're showing a symbol of solidarity and unity. It's a visual symbol that says oppression of black people and people of color is no longer tolerated. Many might feel that it takes more than one person to stand or sit in solidarity because numbers grabs people’s attention. There’s power in numbers.

Now, not everyone agrees with Colin Kaepernick. Many have questioned his patriotism and criticized him for turning the football field into a political demonstration.  You might find yourself in a conversation with an differing view tthan yours. How can you, if you disagree with his actions, have a constructive conversation about it? 

Before you start or join the conversation, have an open mindset. People may not agree with you. And that’s ok. Acknowledge someone’s point of view, but this doesn’t mean that you agree with them. It’s just showing respect. Stick to the facts. Keep emotion and personal attacks out of the conversation. Generate ideas for change.

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter at @blancacobb. Remember to use the hash tag #BlancaOn2. Or, you can find me on my facebook page.

Blanca Cobb is a WFMY News 2 Contributing Editor, body language expert and keynote speaker/trainer who covers nonverbal communication, psychology and behavior. Follow her @blancacobb. The opinions expressed in this article are exclusively hers.

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