It wasn’t until I was in college that I was able to learn about the REAL history of our ancestors and how oppression had greatly affected us as a people, our culture, family values and ideals. I continued to educate myself and it became paramount to be aware and have a wider understanding of how racism, oppression and slavery were still negatively impacting us even to this day.Colin Kaepernick, like so many of us, had witnessed and experienced racism. He was privy to the senseless killings of black men within his country and it became paramount that he voice that opinion. 987 people were killed by lethal force at the hands of police, of those murders 223 were black, a staggering 23%. This had become too much and resulted in his need to take a very public stance. There were a number of factors as to why he may have felt that he could use his platform to show solidarity to his fellow black men and women.
I can only assume that racism within America played an enormous role in this and I personally think that when we witness the way in which black people are mistreated by police it becomes impossible to deny that inherent and systemic racism plays a predominant role in these interactions. For example Dylann Roof massacred 9 people during their bible study, he was arrested and quietly escorted to a police car, in comparison Eric Garner was placed in a choke hold and subsequently killed for a minor infraction. Aside from their crimes, the biggest difference was of course their race and how they were demonized, or not, according to the colour of their skin. This was a guiding force behind Colin Kaepernick’s reasoning for his protest.
I think what also enforces the real need for change is that there are some NFL player who have been accussed or found guilty of domestic violence, yet we continue to celebrate these men both for their athletism and as role models, which in and of itself means that we ignore or condone their behavious off the field for the sake of what they can do for our favourite teams on the field, alternatively Colin Kaepernick, for his silent protest was released by the 49ers and since then, in spite of his outstanding ability on the field, has not be hired by ANY football team. A clear demonstration of how racism has once again been used to disenfranchise yet another black person. Regardless of his personal sacrifice in this situation his protest and his subsequent treatment at the hands of the NFL has highlighted the issue of racism globally and for the first time in many, many years given the rest of us the strength, power and ability to join the struggle and realize that we not only have a voice, but we have the freedom and ability to use it with pride and gusto and in today’s era of internet and social media sites we can join forces and spread our journeys and message all over the world.
In England we have people who have been involved in the struggle and highlighted systemic racism for years, such as Akala. He has very publicly educated people about the racism in the UK although not to the same public forum as Colin, Akala’s impact on the black community in the UK is unquestionable. Unfortunately, few public figures in the UK are willing to make such public protests or highlight the issue of racism within our own country or around the world, it would be inspiring for our young people to see this occur more often and within a public domain.