The most American thing of all

From “Know Your Place: Helping White, Southern Evangelicals Cope with the End of The(ir) World” by Justin R. Phillips

Even though Trump claimed that most of the athletes “show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define,” Kaepernick clearly explained his reasoning from the beginning of his protest: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick adds, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other say.” A 2018 study by the American Journal of Public Health concluded that Black and Latino men are twice as likely as white men to die during interactions with the police. This fact can be acknowledged without diminishing the dangerous work of law enforcement. Seemingly anyone capable of critical thought can hold two positions in tension without resorting to Manichean reductions that necessarily cast one perspective as good and the other as evil.

Kaepernick has remained unsigned since 2017 through the conclusion of the 202 season. Despite the fact that football is still an industry predicated upon winning games, NFL franchises have signed over one hundred quarterbacks other than Kaepernick once he became a free agent, few of which could objectively be thought superior to him. In February 2019, Kaepernick reached a settlement with the NFL in his lawsuit claiming the league colluded to keep him from signing with any team. Although Kaepernick held a workout later that year, it did not lead to a contract offer, raising the possibility that the league was colluding yet again. BY 2020, with the cultural opinion shifting and the financial risks mounting for perceived intransigence, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized about the league’s response to the protests and said Kaepernick should be signed. It seems clear throughout this entire fiasco that the unwillingness to potentially upset one’s business model is actually the most American thing of all.