Colin Kaepernick is essentially blackballed from the National Football League. Last season, Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. He did so to bring awareness to the plight of Black people at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Kaepernick is an accomplished American football quarterback. He has led his team into the Super Bowl. When his $14.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers entered an opt out period following the 2016 season, he elected to opt out of this contract.
Actually, the choice was not his, because had he not done so, the 49ers could have cut him following training camp. The football club would have saved themselves a lot of money, but Kaepernick would be faced with finding another team after most clubs had filled their rosters at the conclusion of training camp.
Basically, he chose to go into the free agency market early to improve his chances of landing with a competitive team.
As preseason games get underway this weekend, Kaepernick remains unsigned by any of the 32 professional football teams. Many of the teams are in need of a starting quarterback or a backup who can step in should the first-string quarterback become injured during the season.
There has always been an unwritten rule in American society to punish political dissenters in their pocketbooks, making it almost impossible for a political dissident to make a living for his or herself and their family.
“If you want to eat,” the powers that be seem to say, “you best keep your mouth shut and not complain about the conditions here in America.”
These measures exacted upon American dissidents are as brutal as any acts of suppression leveled against political dissent in any totalitarian regime on the globe. It is a cruel and unusual punishment, a death slower than a bullet to the head, but death nevertheless from starvation and ostracism from the very community the activist seeks to help.
Nevertheless, Kaepernick knew what he was getting into when he heard the cries of Black people for their kin killed by police officers without the officers suffering any repercussions.
He could have done as many of his critics are doing, therefore, turn a deaf ear to the cries of mothers for the sons they lost senselessly to police violence. He could have, but then, he would not be Colin Kaepernick. He would be Michael Vick, or Ray Lewis, or any Black season ticket holder who does not want to give up their seat in the coliseum to root for their hometown team on any given Sunday, Monday and Thursday during the 2017 season.
To paraphrase that Black bard of Negro liberation, James Baldwin: “If they come for Colin Kaepernick in 2017, they will come for you in 2018”
Rise up Atlanta, but not for the Falcons. Rise up for Kaepernick, because when he knelt, he was standing up for your liberty from police tyranny.
Rise Up, Cincinnati! Get on your feet, Detroit! Take a stand, New York! Act LA!
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org