How Much Do Black Folks Owe Colin Kaepernick?

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick went from cornrowed, flashy-footed quarterback to full-on Afroed protester in one season. One minute he was the hot boy who women were fawning over, then he sat down during the national anthem and became the hot boy with a mind and a blowout that would make the most righteous 1960s revolutionary jealous.


And women loved him more.

Then no one wanted him to play for their team, because Kaepernick’s revolution brings too much reality for white NFL owners. Some have claimed that they don’t want a possible backup quarterback to be the center of their football season. It’s funny because all of the owners would surely say that they don’t want cops killing unarmed black men, women and children, but they also don’t want a player to stand up against it.

On July 4, Kaepernick posted this to social media:

“How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs? To find my independence I went home.”

Kaepernick went to Ghana, continuing his lifelong commitment to continue connecting himself to his ancestry.


Kaepernick also added a Frederick Douglass quote to a longer Instagram post: “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?”

Here’s what Kaepernick wrote:

In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself (and many other Black folks in the African Diaspora) for being forced into the hells of the middle passage. I wanted to see a fraction of what they saw before reaching the point of no return.

I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial Park.

I felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.

All of this got me wondering: If Kaepernick was willing to risk his NFL career— which it appears he has done for the Movement for Black Lives—then what is the movement willing to give back to Kaepernick? Are we willing to boycott football? Are we willing to stand with Kaepernick and kick the NFL in the television-rationing nut sack? If one person was willing to stand publicly for black lives, are black lives willing to stand privately for him?


Make no mistake about it: Kaepernick’s protest will keep him off the field. In fact, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a recent radio interview that he told Kaepernick: “I think you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of, not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering: Is this most important to you?. Yahoo! Sports reports.

Kaepernick has made it clear that he isn’t going to stop standing up for black lives, even if it costs him his football career. The real question is whether those in the movement can cut their TVs off on Sunday to show the NFL that standing by silently and blackballing a player won’t sit well with us, either.


Read more at Yahoo! Sports.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.



If people cared, they’d boycott the NFL en masse.

But, since the NFL has so ably tapped into and monetized the primal tribalism of the American people, nothing will happen on that front.