While nationally Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem has been controversial and gotten him booed, his effort to push along the conversation of treatment of people of color by the establishment resonates with a lot of African-American athletes. Unfortunately, the national conversation has become about the symbol of the flag and not the conversation Kaepernick actually was trying to push forward. But NBA players want to see race relations discussed (remember LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony at the ESPYs?). For one, Jabari Parker has Kaepernick’s back.
Stephen Curry stepped up in a CNBC interview (above) at the end of his tour through Asia with Under Armour and said he was happy Kaepernick was taking a stand.
“I love that there’s freedom of speech and he can stand what he believes in. There’s going to be people that disagree with him, there’s going to be people that agree with him, which is what I think our country stands for, that hopefully will drive the conversation to better ends through equal rights, and the treatment of African-Americans and people of color. So, I applaud him for taking a stand, and hopefully the conversation is about what his message was and not about the fact ‘is he going to stand, is he going to sit for the National Anthem?’ The conversation started and continues.
“We also have the fact he’s putting his money where his mouth is and donating, what’d he say, $1 million dollars to make his message a reality. I hope all the resources and conversations and intellect around the country to find a way to make that million dollars as powerful as it can be. Which is, he’s on the right track.”
Last week Kaepernick said he would donate $1 million to charity, Wednesday he upped that saying his share of the proceeds from the spike in his jersey sales — he now has the top-selling jersey in the NFL — would be reinvested in communities.
Curry didn’t endorse Kaepernick, but good on Curry for not completely dodging the question and not getting bogged down in the flag respect issue. What Kaepernick is trying to help bring front and center is an important national conversation on race and institutional racism, a discussion this country needs to have. Curry seems to get that and good on him for not dancing around the question when asked (although, again, there was no endorsement).
As for the flag issue, put simply, if we all have to have the exact same rituals with our national symbols and there can be no protest, then we are acting just like the countries with forced nationalism indoctrination programs we say we abhor. Part of what the flag stands for is the right to protest.