Justice for Colin?

June 11, 2020

By Jacquelyn D. Heath

Colin Kaepernick

Since the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hand (make that knee) of a Minneapolis police officer, people in the United States have been on a sojourn of soul searching to get on the right side of the future as far as race relations are concerned. After more than 400 years on this continent, old, young, black, white, gay, straight and all in between are publicly and privately striving to lay bare America’s conscience and their own individual character when it comes to this country’s dirty little secret that has been hiding in plain sight all this time; namely, racism.

One of the most overt acknowledgments of “finally getting it right” on racism was made recently by the National Football League (NFL) and its commissioner, Roger Goodell. Week after week during a normal August through February playing season, the nation gets all geeked up over the extraordinary talents and physical prowess of its professional athletes, the majority of whom are African American men, and unbelievable amounts of money change hands.

Mr. Goodell’s expression of remorse pointed to a level of anguish that seemingly mirrored the wrongs that have been perpetrated on many levels and on many fronts for centuries. However, Mr. Goodell’s apology rang hollow for me, because two important words were missing. Those words were: Colin Kaepernick.

I’ve spent most of my life bouncing back and forth between real estate claimed by one of the longest and fiercest rivalries in the NFL- –that between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers—but I don’t profess to be much of a football fan. However, the name of Milwaukee-area native Colin Kaepernick came to my attention in 2017. That was when the then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback had the audacity to kneel during the pre-game national anthem to quietly draw attention to the existence of racism in our country. The multiple recordsetting quarterback was summarily ostracized by NFL team owners after that display and he has not played in the league since that season.

Any experienced bigot will tell you that the best way to deal with opposition and truth is to silence and discredit your critic by whatever means at your disposal. Remove their name and their accomplishments from the daily discourse and you will bring them to their knees in capitulation to your alleged power. The result is like a lynching—minus the noose perhaps—but the effect is the same.

All the marching and posters and words in the name of “getting finally woke” on the topics of racism and bigotry are just so many wasted words and shoe leather until the real, full, unvarnished truth is faced for what it really is. There is no social justice for anyone until there is restorative justice for Colin Kaepernick. The first step on that road would be to have the guts to even say his name in a public forum and own up to the misdeed perpetrated against him by you and others like you.

So, show some genuine leadership and strength of character for a real change. We’re waiting, Mr. Goodell…