An open letter to anonymous NFL execs, with respect to Colin Kaepernick

Image via Getty Images/Michael Zagaris

It has always been my understanding that athletes, specifically football players, are role models for the young people in our country, which is why I'm writing this letter.  Kaepernick's unwillingness to stand for the national anthem is not only patriotic, but a symbol of solidarity to THE PEOPLE -- in this case, people of color who continue to be systemically oppressed, slaughtered and disrespected at every level and in every neighborhood in these United States. 

The thing is, sometimes in order to show solidarity for people who are struggling, you have to turn your back on the ideals of others --not to disrespect them but to show respect for those who have been systemically disrespected. As a white woman, I will never understand what it's like to be a black man in America, which is why it's that much more important for me to listen, to learn, and to stand up for Kaepernick's right to say THIS ISN'T RIGHT. And...I was disappointed to hear that you don't take a similar stance. 

Role models are people to look up to. Role models are people who speak for those who cannot, who are unafraid to lose friends, fans, popularity in order to do and say WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID. Role models align themselves respectfully with those who have been disrespected. Role models give voice to the voiceless, even it means offending a majority. Role models stand up to a system that will bully the entire schoolyard if someone doesn't risk doing SOMETHING.

This is what I want my children to see, to witness and admire --  a man who is willing to RISK his reputation as an athlete in order to MAKE A STATEMENT and ignite change--a man who can say his piece, do his job and wake up the next day to do the same. 

My goal is not to raise children who are the best in their profession of choice, but rather to raise children who stay TRUE to their hearts and are fearless with their ethics--who are able to see the bigger picture with a willingness to risk reputation and, yes--even their career--to do what's right, even if that means going against the team. The coaches. The owners. The executives who comment anonymously...

Rumor has it that Kaepernick's behavior has been a "thorn" in the side of the NFL and I get it. I don't agree with it but I get it. Distractions are THE WORST. Disruption is SUPER ANNOYING. 

But not as annoying as being killed for being black in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Ijeoma Oluo, in her recent Guardian piece, writes: 

I believe wholeheartedly in the power of protest -- I always haveDissent was how I found my power as a young person, and building a platform without using it to stand on is, in my opinion, a completely worthless endeavor. I believe that everyone with a voice should be using it to incite change and open up much needed dialogues. And as a parent and as someone who writes about issues that pertain to parents online, I wanted to let you know that Colin Kaepernick is exactly who I want my children to look to as a role model...

...Jose Vilson writes in his must-read Medium essay:

... In our classrooms, students are constantly asked to think deeper about the presented information, but simultaneously, our schools are structures for American obedience and compliance. Saying the pledge of allegiance before any learning happens means that any learning from the end makes the pledger assume that the learning happening shortly thereafter is part of this set of lessons that is impervious to critique and dissent. Every book, every equation, every piece of work that’s provided by every adult in the classroom is not worth amending or correcting because these are all American, and, if it’s American, it can’t be wrong. Obedience. Compliance..."


The rest of my post/letter can be found here. Solidarity and respect to Colin Kaepernick and the athletes who have since joined him.