Makes Me Wanna Holler and Throw Up My Hands

Kaepernick’s saying what you and I know

Dr. Valerie Wardlaw | 9/13/2016, 4:59 p.m.
Like most citizens, I love America and so does Colin Kaepernick.
Dr. Valerie Wardlaw

I am not going to equivocate my thoughts about these United States of America. Amerykah - as the artist Erykah Badu has called it is hands down the greatest country in the world. Like most citizens, I love America and so does Colin Kaepernick, the once beloved and now embattled quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, Kaepernick refused to stand while the National Anthem was being played during a recent pre-season game. His refusal was his expression of the frustration he felt as a black man, a citizen living in America, observing the lack of racial equality for people of color. Kaepernick made it perfectly clear that his act was his decision and it was personal. We got to witness an act of protest protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You know, the document that begins with We the People.”

And then it happened... we the people (Twitter sphere, sports fans, and a whole lot of folks) lost their figurative minds and let him know (as was their right) how they felt. Some said he was a coward, that it wasn’t the right time or place. No matter, the form is never convenient. It was astounding to me that some said he showed disrespect to the men and women who served in the military, and more than a few of our loving citizens strongly suggested that he find another country to live in. It was as if this millionaire athlete could not and should not have a conscience and that he absolutely could not exercise his right to object to the playing of a song that has a known racist history.

Some applauded his right to protest and wondered if Americans would really hear his heart. They said it was madness but magnificently so.

I immediately thought of the late Muhammad Ali.

The greatest boxer of all times was once called a traitor and draft dodger for refusing to be inducted into the Army. He was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title and not allowed to box in the U.S. for many years. Ali lost millions but it seemed that his soul remained intact. He showed us by his personal act that our worth is not determined by green backs and coins but by the tenets of our hearts and those valuable truths that we would willingly sacrifice our lives for.

It was Ali who told the world that he would not put on a military uniform and journey thousands of miles away to drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while black people were being treated like dogs right here in the streets of America.

Ali unapologetically said that the real enemy was not Vietnam but the good ole USA. It was Ali who said he would willingly go to war if he thought it would bring freedom and equality to black people. For Ali, the real test was whether he would stand up for his beliefs while facing the possibility of jail. In the end, he reflected that he really had nothing to lose if he went to jail because we (black people) had been in jail for 400 years.