Habari Gani?! Nia! Colin Kaepernick Embodied Purpose in 2017

Colin Kaepernick receiving the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during Sports Illustrated 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on Dec. 5, 2017, in New York City (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated); photo illustration by GMG/The Root

This year, for each day of Kwanzaa, The Root is highlighting one person from the community who exemplifies the principle of the day.

On the fifth day of Kwanzaa, Dec. 30, the principle is Nia, or “purpose.” To practice Nia is to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.


Or, in plain speak, it’s about walking that walk.

The person who we felt best exemplified Nia this year is Colin Kaepernick. It is obvious to anyone with eyes that this 30-year-old has a purpose, and that purpose is to use his platform to highlight police brutality in the United States.

In the 2016 football season, Kaepernick began to kneel during the national anthem. In the ensuing year, his small, quiet action put the spotlight on inequality and state-sanctioned brutality, although, because we live in America, some tried to subvert his message as un-American.

No matter; Kaepernick drew a line in the sand and forced players to take a stand (or not). And although he suffered the consequences for his actions, the NFL, the country and the world have taken notice not only of race in America but also of the NFL and its hypocrisy.


And while doing all of that, Kaepernick also gave at least $1 million of his money to grassroots charities. He rarely grants interviews (talks), but he definitely works his purpose (walks).


Who do you think exemplified Nia, or purpose, this year? Sound off in the comments!

Sidenote: Those practicing Kwanzaa greet each other with the words “Habari Gani?!” roughly translated as “What’s the good news?” To which participants respond with the principle of the day, in this case, “Nia!” (but don’t be surprised if at least two black girls turn around to see who’s calling their name).

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About the author

Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.