He Knows His Rights

Kaepernick wearing his popular I know my rights shirt.

Kaepernick wearing his popular “I know my rights” shirt.

Melanie Battle, Editor-in-Chief

It all started because of a bench. Sitting down on a bench to be exact. The small action of sitting during the National Anthem by Colin Kaepernick at a National Football League game is what caused a rift in America’s political and social debates.

Just over a year ago, journalist Jennifer Lee Chan of Niners Nation tweeted out a photo of the team during the National Anthem and that was when things blew up. Her tweet was unrelated to Kaepernick sitting down, but that didn’t stop Twitter users from calling him out on what they believed was disrespectful. People from all across the nation began to ridicule the star quarterback all because he chose not to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” His reason for sitting: to protest the oppression of people of color and the ongoing problem of police brutality in the United States of America. As his protest began to gain more attention, Kaepernick started taking a knee instead of sitting.

The original photo Jennifer Lee Chan tweeted.

Now, Kaepernick is facing more than just backlash from people on different media platforms. He’s having trouble finding someone that will put him on their team. Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback talented enough to lead his team to the Super Bowl. He has been working out religiously trying to find a team that will sign him. Owners of NFL teams are scared to pick Kaepernick up because they fear his outspokenness and political views. Bleacher Report sportswriter, Mike Freeman, tweeted, “Guys: this is not difficult. Teams are avoiding Kaepernick because they don’t like fact he took a knee for the anthem. No other reason. That’s it.” Freeman said that after he published the tweet, he started getting messages from dozens of team officials who were saying Kaepernick hasn’t been signed “because of his political stance he took in not standing for the flag last season to protest racial inequality.” Kaepernick is more than ready to play professional football again, but teams are petrified by the thought of having a player that speaks out about social injustices.

Even through all of this personal turmoil Kaepernick has been experiencing, he still manages to reach out to the community. He founded the Colin Kaepernick Foundation whose message is, “to fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism.” Kaepernick also created “The Know Your Rights Camp,” which is a free campaign, fully funded by him, for youth to help raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instruction about how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios. His focus isn’t just on football anymore. Kaepernick has been donating money to various organizations after committing to his Million Dollar Pledge. His pledge states, “I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months.” Kaepernick has definitely held true to this promise. He has been donating $25,000, to four separate organizations, each month since October 2016.

Colin Kaepernick just wants to make a change, “I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice.”