Colin Kaepernick Isn’t Too Rich To Protest. This Is America, Remember? We Only Listen To Rich People. » VSB

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Colin Kaepernick Isn’t Too Rich To Protest. This Is America, Remember? We Only Listen To Rich People.

Last week, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first athlete in a major America team sport since Mahmoud Abdul Rauf to protest the National Anthem by refusing to stand for it. Kaepernick’s rationale has been that he can’t honor a flag that represents a country that oppresses people of color; Black people particularly. Considering the national reaction Kaepernick has received, this protest has been effective. And, considering the Star-Spangled Banner’s racist roots, appropriate.

Naturally, this protest has made very many people very upset. Some have called Kaepernick ungrateful and disrespectful and suggest he move to another country if he hates America so much. Some have even taken that sentiment a step further and burned his jersey. (Which seems to only happen when White sports fans are angry about something a Black athlete has done.)

And, as is wont to happen when mindless and antagonistic patriotism, myopia, racism, and sports fanaticism mix, some people have said some remarkably dumb-ass shit about Kaepernick’s protest. Which makes me wonder if there was a sale in the opinion aisle of the “Dumb-Ass Shit” store last week. Because so many of the people saying dumb-ass shit are saying the exact same dumb-ass shit.

I don’t have the time or space to expound on each of the dumb-ass shits I’ve heard in the last week. So, let’s just narrow to my two favorites!

1. “The real problem with Kaepernick is that sports and politics shouldn’t mix!”

Initially, this seems like a simple and sober ask. Sports are a very effective distraction from the real world. Shit, you could argue that sports exist specifically to distract people. So it’s not beyond reason to A) expect to be able to be divorced from politics while you’re watching a game and B) become upset at a person who doesn’t allow that to happen.

Unfortunately, that’s impossible to do in America. Sports aren’t just intertwined with politics. It might very well be the most transparently political and politics-driven entity here. (Besides, of course, actual politics.) To wit, the national anthem is played before every high school, college, and professional sporting event. I’ve probably been to 500 of these events, and the anthem was played before literally every single one. That’s 500 times I’ve spent 60 to 90 seconds before a sports game facing our flag and reciting a verse from a cultish, terribly written song that makes negative infinity sense and effectively serves as bumper sticker patriotism. The Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t even occur in every school anymore. But if you’re throwing and catching a ball somewhere in America, you better Star Spangle the shit out of that ball.

And this is particularly true when it comes to football; the NFL specifically. Between the perpetual Marine commercials and fighter jets flying overhead and illogical allusions to shit like “the trenches” and “the battlefield,” NFL games are practically three-hour-long military snuff films. We’re thisclose to holding actual beheadings at halftime of the Super Bowl. Especially after Beyonce decided to be Black this year.

2. “Why is Colin Kaepernick protesting? He just signed a nine-figure salary! He’s not oppressed!”

This is my favorite dumb-ass shit I’ve heard this week. Because it’s the dumbest, it’s the dumbest in the most ways, and it’s the least self-aware. (It also seems to be the most popular one. Maybe the Dumb-Ass Shit store was having a two for one sale on this.)

The two most obvious signs of myopic idiocy here are A) the implication that rich Black people are somehow immune to racism and B) the equally inane implication that only poor people can speak out against it.

The sentiment in B) is particularly foolish because it neglects to consider an inalienable and sacrosanct truth about America and Americans. We only listen to rich people.

Generally speaking, America does not care about what poor and/or oppressed people have to say. About anything. Racism, classism, sexism, violence, health care, politics, education; you name it and we don’t give a damn about poor people’s opinions on it. Unless, of course, there are like a million of them saying it at the exact same time. Or they’re saying it while standing in the middle of the interstate or doing something else that disrupts daily life. (And even then, you might get trucked by a Prius.) But one non-rich American protesting a worthy cause causes as much noise and garners as much attention as a spider with sleep apnea snoring. Think about it: There are 300 million people in this country. And the person the GOP felt is most qualified to represent it is a man whose only qualification is his bank statement.

Why is Colin Kaepernick, millionaire superstar quarterback, protesting? Because no one would give a damn if Colin Kaepernick, Retail Sales Representative at Verizon Wireless, did.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • HoobaStankyLeg

    Amen. The doors of the church are open.

  • Black folk, or Black folk who know better, ain’t in the habit of confusing material wealth with political equality; there’s no greater power in this nation than our government and what they choose (and choose not) to go after. There’s so much data that shows that even after black people rise to middle class status, we still have to deal with job discrimination, the questioning of our credentials, and the limiting of where we have to live.

    Kapeernick’s stance is just pointing out rigged the game is for black folk, regardless of income bracket.

    • kingpinenut

      Same united states of america that it has always been

  • Guest

    Thank you for this. The people losing their ming over this are coming up with some of the dumbest excuses I’ve ever seen. One good thing, I notices sane whites can see the hypocrisy how using your 1st amendment rights (or any amendment rights for that matter), is only reserved for white people or else get out.

  • Trill Mickelson

    My favorite part of all this is seeing which athletes and other sports personalities are bigots. So far, I have:

    – Doug Gottlieb (go find Bomani Jones taking him to task for A here. Also, if you don’t follow Bomani, you really, really should)
    – TJ Yates (go find Arian Foster call him out for being an idiot)
    – Victor Cruz is just an idiot.

    Feel free to add to this list, y’all.

    • QueenRaven23

      I love Bomani.

    • ALM247

      Not surprised by Cruz….He strikes me as the type to not rock the boat. Isn’t he Black with Hispanic ethnicity? That’s an entirely big can of worms with regard to identity in America…..

      • Brother Mouzone

        He’s the type that would say “I’m not Black I’m Puerto rican/Dominican/Cuban, etc…tell that to the cop who pulls your black a$$ over at 2 in the morning in your ferrari cause you “fit the profile”

    • Drew Brees said the flag is sacred.

      • Trill Mickelson

        I’m so blown the mental gymnastics Dwights go through to avoid the point. It’s not about the flag. It’s not about the military or the troops. Come on, y’all. I’d honestly be less pissed off if all these cats just came out and said “I hate Black people.”

      • miss t-lee

        If you knew where Drew grew up it makes total sense.

        Hint: Here in the richest part of town.

      • NomadaNare

        Didnt see this


      • Duff Soviet Union

        Brees’ comment made him sound like the embodiment of MLK’s ain’t sh*t white liberal. It’s funny for how much white liberals love MLK, they apparently missed that part.

    • QueenRaven23

      I’ll add more once I go home watch PTI and Around the Horn. I had to record. I knew it was going to be good today.

    • miss t-lee

      Funny…I followed both Arian and TJ as of saturday (since they were both members of my squad–The Texans) so I saw the whole thing occur in real time.
      TJ got unfollowed with the quickness.

    • Brother Mouzone

      Alex Boone

  • Madame Zenobia

    You left out the “Colin Kaepernick can’t talk about this – he was raised by White parents!!!” That’s one of the dumb things I keep seeing and hearing about this. Especially from mainstream news sources, such as my hometown station KCCI. You’ll remember them as the station whose reporter is the subject of this insightful article:

    • miss t-lee

      You left out the “Colin Kaepernick can’t talk about this – he was raised by White parents!!!”

      I’ve seen this so many times this weekend. I’m like…

      • QueenRaven23

        Yesterday, we had our biweekly meeting about black lives. So we have a few white people that attend, and one of the girls told us that she’s losing friends and family because she attends our meetings, and people don’t understand why she’s meeting with us. I felt so sorry for her.

        • miss t-lee

          That’s a shame. :(

        • That’s sad. I hope she’s gaining friends, though, who are properly plugged into humanity.

        • Kas

          I would be happy to lose those friends and family

          • It must be painful, though. The people who reared and loved you can share the same compassion for others because of their skin color.

            I’m estranged form my father and it was a difficult choice to ignore people telling me to fix things. My life is much better for doing so, but I also know the years-long pain of severing a family connection.

            • Kas

              My relationship with my immediate family is rock solid. The rest of my doesn’t really matter to me one way or the other though I like them.. So you’re right, I can’t speak to this from personal experience.

          • QueenRaven23

            Yea, I told her to stand in her truth. That’s all you can do. She’s standing strong.

    • Nik White

      That’s the very reason that you know that he’s sincere about his stance.

  • YeaSoh

    Hopefully his behavior starts a movement of more athletes taking a stand of some sort. I really feel like more athletes should be doing the same

  • Conrad Bess

    The Niners have been my squad since ’89. And given the disaster this upcoming year is going to be (and even more painful knowing the Raiders arethisclose to playoff contention), I needed something to look forward to. I follow Kap’s IG feed, and I knew it was a matter of time before he spoke out. Good to see.

    • Val

      Raiders are acting like they want to move to Vegas. They’ve already met with Vegas officials. I hope they go and I would gladly contribute a dollar for their new stadium in Nevada.

      • kingpinenut

        I don’t what NFL is anymore

        • ALM247


          • kingpinenut

            my brain thought “know” my fingers…just skipped right on doing

      • Digital_Underground

        The Raiders belong in Oakland. And this is coming from an LA guy. If the Raiders leave Oakland for Las Vegas the NFL will finally become the joke its been trying to be.

  • PinkRose

    The 49’ers are my home team and now even more so!

  • stmije

    That last paragraph tho.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    I ain’t stood/ saluted the pledge/flag for years not on purpose but simply because I didn’t have to after high school. Soooo I don’t really blame others for not doing so, I just know I’m ready for the first public event a honky challenges me on it……Y’all might see me on CNN.

    • grownandsexy2

      Last time I stood and pledged any kind of allegiance was in grade school cause you pretty much did what you were told. They gave me the side-eye in high school, but no one said anything. I was in the military and still didn’t pledge. Used to go out of my way not to. One of the white teachers side-eyed me at a recent graduation, and I paid her no mind.

      • Mochasister

        Teachers have so many other things to worry about. A kid not reciting the pledge should be the least of her worries. Sometimes I don’t stand or recite it when it comes on in the mornings.

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