I don’t agree with everything Spike Lee says, but when he posted on Instagram that he found it “fishy” that NFL teams weren’t champing at the bit to scoop up free agent Colin Kaepernick, I had to agree.
For those still asleep, besides having one of the most perfect Afros that has ever Afroed, Kaepernick, who played for the San Francisco 49ers, spent the entire 2016 NFL season kneeling during the national anthem to protest the killings of unarmed black men, women and children at the hands of police.
Many Trump voters called the protest un-American. At the end of the season, the 49ers let Kaepernick, his perfect Afro and all his pro-blackness go. Since being released, Kaepernick has vowed that he has no intention of protesting this upcoming season, but still no offers.
Recently, Spike Lee and his sweet Malcolm X cap met up with Kaepernick, which led to this Instagram post:
And Spike is right. Look—Kaepernick isn’t the best quarterback, by any means, but acting as if he can’t play in this league, or couldn’t bring value to a team, is ridiculous. He’s sitting on the free agent market for one reason and one reason alone: He’s a black man who protested about black issues, and that makes white America uncomfortable.
Also, let’s be super clear about this: If his talent outweighed his protest, no one would care. The NFL has made a habit of offering second chances to domestic abusers, men who have been accused of murder, men who savagely beat their children, and men who’ve been arrested for various felonies, including drunk driving and assault. But standing up for black rights is a just a little too taboo for the NFL.
If Kaepernick doesn’t find a football home, then we’ll all know what this is about: NFL owners are too afraid to take on a player who could actually help their team win—not because he’s a deplorable person, but because he had the audacity to stand up for black rights during a sacred NFL game. Doesn’t matter that he was trying to bring attention to the police killings of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Keith Lamont Scott and countless others who lost their lives in confrontations with the pistols of America’s racism.
In fact, in 2016, more than 250 black people were killed by police; but let’s not get upset with this statistic—which was all that Kaepernick was trying to use his platform to bring attention to. Let’s keep acting as if Kaepernick isn’t better than your team’s backup quarterback. Let’s keep acting as if Kaepernick’s quarterbacking, and not his Afro or his passion for the Movement for Black Lives, is the reason he’s jobless. Let’s act as if an organization couldn’t use some of the good public relations that Kaepernick brings, like his offseason work with underprivileged children or his huge donations to charities or his efforts to feed starving Somalians.
Let’s all pretend that the underlying reason for why Kaepernick hasn’t been called for a new job isn’t that he has an amazing Afro that harks back to a time when players stood up for what they believed. The NFL is historically racist. In fact, I can’t even type my hometown team’s name (a team that could surely use Kaepernick) because it’s a racial slur. That’s how fucking racist the NFL is.
But let’s all keep pretending that this is about football.