Dear Mr. Colin Kaepernick,
I write this in hopes that somehow in your busy life you may read this. As a sports figure you have a big platform in which to voice your opinion. We all do thanks to the freedom we enjoy in this country but you have an even bigger one. You are a public figure. I am just a woman who has my own opinions. I may not be a celebrity, but I do have a blog to use for my own platform.
As a white female, I cannot write about oppression. I cannot empathize with anyone who has felt undermined, oppressed or ignored. However, what I can talk about is the one thing we all have in common here and that is how truly blessed we all are to have our freedom here. You and I can walk out in the middle of a busy street in broad daylight and choose to protest about anything we want. There are other countries around the world who cannot do this and that came with a cost. Our freedom is not free. You and I have all of these privileges because of people that came long before us fought for them. They sacrificed their lives for them, and that cannot be forgotten and we need to respect that.
I want to be clear that this is not about politics. I cannot and will not make this a political issue because I admit that I am biased. My boyfriend is my rock, and he works in law enforcement. I hear about the demands of his job and his peers everyday. I see and hear things that you may not even realize so I am biased. You talk about seeing bodies in the street but you cannot imagine that being a part of your everyday life and I can assure you that is an even harder burden to bare. So again this is not about politics but what this is about is patriotism and honoring our country which is something that needs to be addressed because I believe you are missing the bigger picture. The United States is not your problem, it is the challenges we face as a nation and those are two different issues so your way of addressing this is misguided.
I look at the world today and realize that the world is full of hate. Somewhere along the way, we started fighting each other and we have gone backwards. We have enough hatred in the world. The world can see your frustration. We heard it in your voice when you told reporters why you chose not to stand for the National Anthem, but taking a stand for oppression and not respecting our flag are two very different things.
You and I are very fortunate and we have a lot to be thankful for. We may not have the lives we do now if we did not live in this country that our military sacrificed their lives for. I found an interesting photo on the Internet of a football signed by you that says "God bless our troops" so I am confused why you do not want to pay your respects to them and honor our country's flag. That flag stands because of our troops. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your actions do not support the words written on that football, and I find that disheartening.
It is your right to voice your opinion and I respect that. However, when you said "I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag or a country that oppresses black people and people of color" I think you are forgetting that the anthem and that flag you refused to stand for have given you the right to speak in the first place. People died for that flag! I understand you have your own personal feelings on this matter because you are part African American and I cannot relate but again I think you are missing something important here. Our troops sacrifice is the reason why you are here chasing your dream and getting paid $19 million this season so with all due respect, I have an issue with this. You need to remember that you are lucky to have been born here. You are lucky to have raw athletic talent that so many of us will never have and you get to play a GAME for a job....and you make a ton of money playing this game. Thank a soldier for that!
Just as you have the right to make a stand in this, so do I. You are a public figure who is not looking at the bigger picture here. There are kids who look up to you and will follow in your footsteps. Likewise, you are also influencing other athletes like rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres who initially said he would follow your lead and then allegedly changed his mind, read that HERE. You are influencing new faces in football so you need to evaluate your own actions even more closely. Even former 49er and football legend Jerry Rice does not understand your antics....and he is a black man. He has the same concerns as you, he just knows how to present himself and the issues accordingly.
All lives matter. So much going on in this world today.Can we all just get along! Colin,I respect your stance but don't disrespect the Flag.— Jerry Rice (@JerryRice) August 30, 2016
You are a role model to other players and kids alike and while I can appreciate your desire to bring attention to issues in our country you are only adding more fuel to the fire. You are spreading hatred, which the world already has enough of. You said "this is not something that I am going to run by anybody. 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." You sir are taking a stand against patriotism, not oppression. You are part of the problem and not the solution and yes, I think you should face some consequences for that.
As disturbed as I am by your choice to not stand and honor our troops I am even more disturbed by your choice to further exploit your opinions with your Fidel Castro shirt on Monday. You have been very vocal about how black people are oppressed but I question how much you know about Fidel Castro. How can you stand against oppression when you are wearing a Castro shirt?! I want to give you the benefit of the doubt here but your fashion statement is nothing short of ignorance. I will not patronize you with a history lesson but Castro is no hero. Castro oppressed more people than anyone in the western hemisphere for decades, much longer than you and I have been alive! You make millions of dollars and lead a comfortable life so how are you oppressed? If you feel like you are oppressed now, try living under a dictatorship like Castro's and then you will know what it is like to be oppressed. Your shirt with Malcolm X and Fidel Castro that says "Like Minds Think Alike" is not cute and it is not funny and quite frankly I find it ignorant and there is no excuse for this.
I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your decision to not stand up for the National Anthem at your next game. You must not realize how much influence you have over people. Use your passion for equality in a productive manner. Reach out in your community and be the leader and start making that change that you want to see because that can be infectious! Stop pointing the finger and do something about it! Use your celebrity and resources for good rather than a media circus. You can start a revolution. Choose that instead of spreading ignorance and disrespecting your country. We need to have a lot of serious discussions in this country about race and inequality and just like you have the constitutional right to disrespect our flag, I have that same right to tell you that I believe that what you did is wrong and there is no justification for this.
--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer & Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ