FILE UNDER: AMERICA
"...While black men only make up six percent of the American population, they comprise a staggering seventy percent of NFL rosters. However, their power is mainly found on the field, since there are currently no African-Americans who are a majority owner of any team and no African-American CEOs or Presidents. The majority of NFL players are black, while the NFL fan base is 83 percent white and 64 percent male. These are people who pay staggering amounts of money to watch black men who have their bodies battered on the field. As long as they run and tackle, keep their helmets on, and their mouths shut, then they are acceptable to the white mainstream public. However, when black athletes choose to point their aggression not towards each other but to larger, systematic inequalities, that's when the backlash begins.
...What Kaepernick and Ali as black athletes unleash through their political activism is a rupture in what is expected of them and how their allegiance to this country has never been rightfully earned.
Toni Morrison once said, "In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate." Kaepernick's protest, just as Ali's refusal to participate in the Vietnam War, tapped into an entrenched, historical fear of race in this country, that blackness is by default anti-American. This is why when gymnast Gabby Douglas did not place a hand over her heart for the pledge of allegiance during the 2016 Rio Olympics, she was heavily criticized to the point where she released a public apology. Meanwhile, white shot-putters Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs kept their hands down at their side and no one questioned them. Whiteness is considered to be intrinsically American; therefore, a white athlete's allegiance to the flag is assumed whereas with black athletes, it is more heavily enforced. White people want minorities to pledge their allegiance to the flag and stand for the National Anthem because then it reinforces the false belief that everyone is equal and uniformly protected under the law and constitution. It is a form of cognitive dissonance that African-Americans are coerced into believing in; they are encouraged to forget that the flag's creation transpired when African-Americans were still slaves and that the full version of the National Anthem condemned slaves who sought to fight with the British people in order to achieve freedom.
...People aren't merely upset because he is disrespecting the flag; they
are upset because Kaepernick's anger illuminates just how divided this
nation is and has always been."
ROLLING STONE: What Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem Protest Tells Us About America