Why I changed my mind about Colin Kaepernick, and you should, too.

I, as an individual, am as pretty WASP-y as you can get. I am white, middle class, Protestant, grew up mostly in the South, and come from a military family – my grandfather was in the Army, my brother was in the Marines, and I have 3 uncles who served in the Navy.  So, when I first heard about and subsequently saw Colin Kaepernick’s response to the National Anthem, it stung. 

Okay, I’m hedging. It more than stung. I thought it was disrespectful and I flat out disagreed with it. 

Yeah, yeah, my family members served to preserve his right of free speech, I get it. Now, I am not in any way going to condone his other choices, but I am going to specifically address his choice to kneel during the National Anthem. I thought what he was doing was wrong.

I now realize I am the one that was wrong, and here is why.

I have written previously regarding my feelings about the current state of our country, working alongside members of law enforcement every day, being married to a black man, and being the mother of two biracial boys. The current level of violence in this country, American citizen on American citizen, is nauseating. And we are scared – black, white, police, non-police. 


For each other, our neighbors, our friends, our husbands, our wives, our sons, our daughters. And we are letting that FEAR WIN. I have realized… even in 2016, we are still very much of country of “us” vs “them”.

I have listened to so many people talk about how Colin Kaepernick is being disrespectful by kneeling. Military, non-military, men, women…. but all mostly white. 

And that got me thinking. I started thinking about race relations in this country, and I started thinking about my own family, and my fears for my children. If I had something to say, once my children started driving and I began to pray for them to come home safely every night… not just in fear of a car accident, but in fear of them getting shot… How could I draw attention to it? How could I get my voice heard? How could I start a national conversation to actually help the situation, and make some progress?

So I had to ask myself, how do “we” (White America) want “them” (Black America) to protest? To show their fear? To demonstrate their pain? 

We complained in the 1960s with sit-ins and boycotts (“they are interrupting businesses”), we judge harshly with riots (“they are being violent”), and the church prayer meetings largely get ignored. So how, in this day and age, are we going to allow a population of people in the United States, the “land of the free” be heard? How are “we” going to allow “them” to start a conversation with “us”?

My guess is, Colin Kaepernick is scared for this country. I know I am. 

As a trauma surgeon, I am the one behind the scenes, with my hands covered in the blood of the injured. Their blood not only stains my skin, it stains my soul

The patients I have lost live forever in my mind. Enough blood has already been spilled onto our streets. With all the violence that is happening, why can’t we prioritize our feelings and support a non-violent means of expression? He is nonviolently expressing his fear, his anger over what is happening by kneeling. He’s not turning his back. He’s not burning anything. He isn’t breaking into a building, or throwing rocks at police. He is kneeling, which is still a position of respect. A man kneels to ask a woman to become his wife. People kneel to pray. And he is bringing attention to an issue that should be in all of our minds and on all of our hearts.

As Americans, regardless of race, we should be encouraging non-violent means of communication, and kneeling during our National Anthem, is one of them. I’m not saying everyone should sign up for the Colin Kaepernick fan club, but what I am saying is that we should stop focusing on the how of the protest and start focusing on the why of the protest. The only way for there to not be an “us” and “them” is to allow each other to not only speak, but also to be heard.  

So, White America, I encourage all of us to put on the hearing aids, and start listening.

4 thoughts on “Why I changed my mind about Colin Kaepernick, and you should, too.

  1. That is an excellent idea: focus on the why, especially when the protest is non violent and peaceful. I was the opposite of you: I didn’t see a problem with what he did as it was peaceful, drew attention to a valid problem. It got people talking but sadly that’s not always positive when people can’t look at the issue but just drama.

    That being said I wasn’t very happy bringing up to the local NAACP the issues of race and health care and no one responded. The resources I had were all verified, solid, and they didn’t want to do anything about it. 😦

    If it takes a Colin to do it, to bring attention to it, so be it.

  2. Excellent idea!

    My only concern is that people are focused on their emotions, rather than the issue and how we can change ourselves, talk with our immediate intimates, about how we treat other and can do it more respectfully. How we can listen.

    I’m most disheartened by the local NAACP, that never responded to my items, with solid resources/research, about race and healthcare.

    If it takes a Colin to do it, so be it.

  3. Most people shot during routine police stops, from what I see on the news, fight and/or run. When my son started going out without me, I made certain he knew how to respond if he or his friends were stopped. We even role played situations. Police are rough on young men but they are the cause of much of the crime, it’s statistics. Why doesn’t anyone promote learning how to behave when stopped??? It couldn’t hurt.

  4. I find it insulting after retiring as a state trooper with 26 years of service, to have people write and say “I worry about and hope some white cop doesn’t shoot my black son/daughter”. Is it right for me to say I hope some black male doesn’t rob and shoot one of my grandchildren?

    This all started with Obama and his politics of division. Kaepernick’s girlfriend also has a great influence over him.

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