In 1995 I watched a TV ad that was as cool as anything I had possibly ever seen. Channel 4 and BBC 2 were sharing rights to provide highlights of NBA action and as a fan I loved seeing the upcoming stars listed in the Nike Ad. Krs1 provided the voice and the link to a supposed Basketball revolution styled on Gil Scott Heron’s classic. The advert was projected as the future of Basketball. Brought to you by Nike and the tag line – Just Do It.
Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, who dared to kneel during the National Anthem to protest against the many people killed at the hands of law enforcement across America in recent years. His protest courted controversy and the possibility of his never playing for an NFL team again. He continued to kneel and inspired many others to join his respectful protest. Kaepernick’s actions courted comment from POTUS and many others, stating that Colin’s not signing with another team may have little to do with the protest and more to do with his waning skills as a quarterback.
Nike’s recent and controversial video marking 30 years of it’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign, is moving on a number of levels for me. In the first instance, the simple piano piece and then the commentary noting feats of overcoming adversity and daring against great odds and triumphing – Just Doing It are eyeopening to witness. From the misfortunes of the skateboarders, we cut to a surfer – then a wrestler – a boxer – runner – football player/homecoming queen – iron man finalist – soccer player – basketball icon – and tennis legend. The request is to be not just good, but dare to be exceptionally outstanding.
The second aspect to the 2 minute advert that has me moved, are some of the words Colin shares. Insights to ideas of a legacy he has set in motion. Nike, one of the largest global sports manufacturers has endorsed, possibly playing the long game.
Backing a be felled star. Supporting a man’s vision to realign the promise America holds as it’s dream. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I feel that Colin is the one who has set in motion an unstoppable wave.
That of living your truth without compromise. It is both daring and congruent. Scorn, ridicule, not being signed have followed in the wake of his protest and still Colin continues to support his idea of what is right. It speaks of strength, resilience and of an indelible message. Much like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, I can see how the pairing came to be.
“Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” Colin has stood by his convictions and as a result has been locked out of playing for an NFL team. He believed that he as a sports star could make his feelings known about the spate of unlawful killings that have happened far too often in recent years. Captivating the media and awareni of social commentators and members from black and minority groups around the world.
Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant III, Janelle Monae’s Hell You Talm Bout is a song accounting the number of women children and men that have been killed by law enforcement. The song expresses the feeling of injustice in a clear and profound way.
Colin knelt to protest the injustice of those slain and their killers not brought to justice for their wrong doing. Protests and movements including Black Lives Matter have given voice to the many that feel that America has not lived up to it’s promise of equality and justice for all. America appears to justify killing those marginalised and held accountable for essentially being classed as wrong and for surviving simply.
The injustice, the silencing, the bigotry, the racial profiling, the implicit and explicit racial biases, the misdirecting of public insecurities by media outlets, the fanning of inferiority complex flames that I believe Colin was quietly protesting, were being dragged from the shadows into uncomfortable light. His aim – to draw America’s attention to what has been affecting members of it’s citizens in lethal ways.
Wrong, wrong wrong
The demand that those who watched the games he played, and those of his teammates and colleagues across the league could see that by respectfully protesting – something was horribly wrong. The protest though humble, was as loud as thunder and the world heard and payed attention. Colin standing for something risked losing everything.
“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy ask if they are crazy enough.” He asks at the end of the advert. When a person has been discounted, knocked down, possessions stolen, aspects of their identity misrepresented and misprinted as truths, when their voices are ignored, their walks, sit ins, runs, dunks, punches, hits, throws, dances tweets and music appropriated repackaged and resold as another’s triumph story. Viewing the world from the position as low as a pavement, and being held there, stating to anyone who listened ‘I can’t breathe’, dreams then are all that are left. Martin Luther King Jnr had a dream. For Colin taking a knee was his stand, his ‘I Have Had Enough’.
Prior to the protest and the NFL Black Out of 2017 I knew little of Colin Kaepernick. My disappointment at his treatment by owners and sponsors of NFL teams grew as I witnessed a man quietly make a point against a problem his country faces. The protest was to kneel during the National Anthem played at the beginning of all games. He did not burn a flag, he also did not curse, taunt or abuse others that stood for the anthem. Visually the image is even more notable as most players stand.
Colin knelt because, as a football player, he felt moved by people being killed by law enforcement across his country. So moved, he had to show something to those that watched televised football games. Feeling that the country should know and be moved too by the intolerable slayings. Colin did little to exonerate himself from those who hurled insults and barbs about his reasons for kneeling. They claimed that he was insulting the flag and the National Anthem.
Un-American. He was pouring scorn on those who had given up their lives in foreign lands defending and protecting their country. He knelt paying not only respect to the flag but also protesting against what he saw as injustice. A deft quarterback move. Feigning a pass to rush those yards to get a 1st down. What appears unsurprising is the split his kneeling has caused. The act is a difficult one to fathom for those who may find critical thought, critical analysis and aspects of philosophy a challenge. A football player protesting about an unjust system of justice is beyond red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow thinking.
One or the other
The proposition is not binary. The invitation is a request to see Colin’s act through a lens of plurality. Holding us all in the midst of it’s story – trying to figure it out. A world past Post Modernism, 18 years into the Information Age, of Alt truth, Alt Right. Play football and inspire us as a quarterback Colin, but ignore the plight of those named and the others unnamed. The many whose lives could have resembled Kaepernick’s and his – theirs. The splitting of consciousness, of opinion of right and wrong, of good versus bad and poor appears like a schism; a form of un-diagnosed mental illness, festering and leading to a paranoid schizoid position that is fanned by unchecked fear and misdirected internalised self-esteem issues.
When America requires a sports phenomena to politically fight against a global threat as was the case with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics – acceptable. Jesse’s treatment by America post his 4 Olympic Gold medal winning haul was beyond shameful, unacceptable, disrespectful. When Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics stood and raised their fists in a salute that sent a message around the world. The two men were reviled for their act. Their lives were negatively affected for standing up for an ideal – equality and justice for all. With the case of Tommie and John the Black Panther Party supporters, their political fight was seen as unwanted and apparently tarnished the reputation of athletics, the Olympics and the United States.
40 Million Dollar
The book by William Rhoden ‘40 Million Dollar Slaves’ that I was invited to read by Q, D amd Ruze from Broad Waters Podcast appears to have caught a few in the public stratosphere of sports super celebrity’s attention. In the book Mr Rhoden charts the experience of African Americans in sports events as diverse as Horse Racing, Boxing, Baseball, Football and Basketball.
Plethora of sport
In Rhoden’s book all sports are portrayed through a lens of retrospective curiosity and invites reflection of recent sports stars actions, endorsements and silence in relation to social justice. Mr Rhoden appeared to be tilling the soil for new sports stars – conscious and willing to engage in a higher moral purpose other than filling bank accounts and surfing the waves of popularity. Mr Rhoden appeared to be calling on those who had made it, to right the overturned table preventing equality, social justice and social responsibility for black and minority peoples across America. Rhoden’s call may have been answered.
Lebron James Foundation
Dwayne Wade’s Foundation
Alonzo Mourning Foundation
Tim Duncan Foundation
Serena Williams Fund
Code Switch 30th May 2018 A thousand Ways To Kneel and Kiss the Ground
Fighting Talk 8th of September 2018
Kevin Durant discusses race
Colin Kaepernick should have a new contract playing for an NFL team if he so chose I feel. He had a number of years left to play. The impact of his protest has unveiled a new law by the NFL banning any player kneeling through the playing of the National Anthem. I believe that Nike have the right person for the ideal of Just Do It. Colin Kaepernick has and is continuing to… Inspire, Educate, Support, Seek Justice and look beyond self..
Lastly: Colin Kaepernick discusses his protest and the cause he supports in this video. A synopsis of all that is written above.