In 2016 NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick exercised his right to protest before a preseason game.
Kaepernick felt he could not in good faith express pride for the American flag when so many American people of colour remained oppressed and vulnerable to dangers such as police brutality.
And so, he chose not to stand during the national anthem as a show of solidarity with people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
Despite receiving horrific online abuse from those who felt his peaceful protest had been disrespectful, Kaepernick remained strong in his stance, continuing to speak out about the injustices in American society, he took the knee to the anthem during the 2016 season.
Speaking with ESPN in August 2016, Kaepernick said:
I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change.
When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.
Kaepernick has since inspired other players to follow suit, with tensions becoming more heated in September 2017 when President Donald Trump suggested players protesting during the national anthem should be sacked from the NFL.
In October 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging they retaliated to his advocacy activities by taking away his employment rights.
As reported by ESPN, the filing read:
[The NFL and the owners of the NFL] have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.
I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players. To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap pic.twitter.com/fNEeke0crs
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 3, 2019
#ImWithKap #7Challenge! I am donating $7 to Colin’s Know Your Rights Camp. The number 7 symbolizes Kap’s jersey number. I challenge you to donate $7 to @YourRightsCamp and nominate 7 others to do the same. Go to https://t.co/Bonrfn2Jf2 and click donate. @Kaepernick7 pic.twitter.com/upSma6Hcxs
— Nick Cannon (@NickCannon) February 3, 2019
— Piper Perabo (@PiperPerabo) February 4, 2019
— Janelle Monáe, Cindi (@JanelleMonae) February 3, 2019
— Rosanna Arquette (@RoArquette) February 3, 2019
And so this year’s Super Bowl was used by celebs and non celebs alike as an occasion to show solidarity with Kaepernick and to speak out against the way he has allegedly been treated by the NFL.
From Rihanna to Nick Cannon, numerous stars have announced their decision to boycott the Super Bowl, an event which is usually a must watch in the American sporting calendar.
Golden Globe Award nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Selma) tweeted:
I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players.
To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap
Suits actor Wendell Pierce said:
The @NFL has trampled on the right to protest. #ImWithKap Now if we can get Kaepernick to join those activist from SELMA a generation ago who died for our right to vote and use it. Mr. Kaepernick millions support you. Support us and VOTE.
— COMMON (@common) February 3, 2019
I agree. The @NFL has trampled on the right to protest. #ImWithKap Now if we can get Kaepernick to join those activist from SELMA a generation ago who died for our right to vote and use it. Mr. Kaepernick millions support you. Support us and VOTE. https://t.co/jZUfFRcacY
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) February 4, 2019
This protest has sparked the hashtag, #ImWithKap and has once again shone a light on the important issues Kaepernick has been speaking up about.
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