Wanna Be Starting Something? 5 Ways Kaepernick’s Protest Drum Beats On

Angela Bronner Helm
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines against the Green Bay Packers in the first half of their preseason football game at Levi’s Stadium on Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick’s measured moral protest against police brutality continues to be a topic of national conversation, its fallout touching the culture in new and unexpected ways.

The backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers says he will no longer stand for the national anthem until there is a “significant change” in racism in America, and he has definitely started something in the words of the late, great Michael Jackson.


Kaepernick, who had said he is fully prepared for the negative blowback, may or may not have expected his protest to gain support in the following five ways.

1. His Jersey Has Shot to #1 in Sales

Reports emerged this weekend that Colin Kaepernick’s jersey went from 20th to first in sales on the 49ers website and is ranked No. 5 overall on the NFL store. Somebody or a lot of somebodies are in support of this man and want to show it by proudly sporting his name on their backs. We predict that this football season, you will be seeing a lot of Kaepernick jerseys on folks who have never even been to a football game, much less supported the 49ers. And at $99 a pop, we seriously doubt folks are copping the jerseys to burn.

2. Soccer Player Megan Rapinoe Takes Her Knee During the Anthem

In addition to other NFL players sitting during the national anthem, U.S. soccer international player Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign knelt during the national anthem against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday. Rapinoe said that the gesture was a little nod to Kaepernick and “everything that he’s standing for.”


“I think it's actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country,” says the proud gay midfielder, who adds, “It's important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this.”

3. President Obama Defends Kaepernick’s “Constitutional Right” to Protest

President Barack Obama said Monday that Kaepernick is exercising his constitutional right “not to stand during the national anthem.” The president made his remarks during a news conference in China, where he is attending the G-20 summit. ABC News reports that the president says he has no doubt that the quarterback is sincere and “cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about.” And President Obama should know all about it, since he is a former constitutional law professor.


4. The Kaepernick Protest Will Be Depicted in “Madden ’17”

For all you gaming heads, last week EA Sports announced that Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem will be depicted in-game in “NFL Madden ’17,” “reflecting its commitment to authenticity.”


“Overall, our new commentary will mainly center around on-field performance, as well as major news like trades, free agency signings, and injuries,” said a rep.

5. John Legend Wants to Change the National Anthem

In support of Kaepernick’s stance, singer John Legend recently suggested that instead of “literally celebrating the murder of African Americans,” the national anthem should change.


It was first widely reported by The Root, and many are now learning that our national anthem is not the ode to freedom it’s cracked up to be but, in fact, has a hidden pro-slavery history. Legend, who tweeted his remarks this week, suggests that the national anthem should be changed to “America the Beautiful.”

Again, he should know. He tweets, “For those defending the current anthem, do you really truly love that song? I don’t, and I'm very good at singing it. Like, one of the best.”


Angela Bronner Helm is a writer, editor and adjunct professor of journalism at the City College of New York. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter