By Jourdan Bazley
Blog Content Contributor
Collin Kaepernick created a social stir when he took a seat during the national anthem at the 49ers game on August 29. Many opposed Kaepernick’s decision to sit down during the National Anthem, deeming it “disrespectful” and “anti-American.” The massive attention that this protest has gained comes from all kinds of people: old, young, white and black. With such an overload of reactions, I am prompted to ask a larger question: what more, other than backlash and opposition, will come from this extremely public protest for Black lives and African American rights?
Although there was meaning and reasoning behind the sitting, the backlash was how Kaepernick’s move first gained popularity. After taking the seat, many public figures reached out to share their opinions on the protest. 49ers fans and even some larger names, like Eric Bolling, rejected Kaepernick’s protest. Bolling even tweeted, referring to Kaepernick as an “ungrateful clown” in defense to the meaning of football.
In Steve Wyche’s Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem, Kaepernick himself made it a point to explain that his protest was not done for any type of approval from anyone, but instead, to bring attention to African American lives in the United States.
Kaepernick stated, “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed… If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Kaepernick did take a chance when he decided to make such a bold move, but did his subjection to this scrutiny accomplish all that he’d hoped? Based on statistical data, there is definitely a noticeable effect. As of September 7, Collin Kaepernick’s jersey became the number one selling jersey on NFLShop.com. President Obama even commented on the protest stating, “If nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about,” which supports the idea that this is a matter that needs to be solved.
I would say that this protest is getting quite a lot of support. The rise in purchases of Kaepernick’s number seven jersey reinforces that people are reacting to what Kaepernick stood for. Although, there are some people that have shown disapproval by burning the jersey, but I think it is safe to say that most buyers are spending $100 plus dollars to actually wear the jersey rather than ruin it.
Does this recent chain of events say much about the future for African American rights and Black lives in America? Juwaan Johnson, the Public Relations Chair of Black Men United at Texas State shared his perspective of what Kaepernick’s heightened jersey sales could mean for the Black Lives Matter movement in America.
“I like that he is using his platform during ‘America’s game’,” Johnson said. “All of America is watching it. From my standpoint, I believe that it will help even though I think there will still be some problems. Rappers are buying his jersey; more people see the jerseys. This creates a bigger platform for Black Lives Matter to create a movement for America to understand that we are not being treated equal.”
Johnson goes on to say, “I would buy his jersey because the whole world is watching now. It is doing a lot.”
Johnson’s opinion on Kaepernicks’ sales says to me that the publicity of this event is able to make a beneficial statement to people of all ages.
Many Texas State organizations like Black Women United, a place where “women of all ethnicities can come together to educate and empower themselves” and Black Men United, “a brotherhood-based student organization that empowers Black males through dialogue, skill development and service” create and host different events to help strengthen and support the community here in San Marcos. Johnson mentioned that he has plans to discuss ideas with different organizations at Texas State that will act as support for Kaepernick’s protest and awareness for Black Lives Matter. Change in America will surely take time, but as awareness reaches more and more people, it seems that things will be moving in the right direction.