O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…
I will be embarrassingly honest here. I actually do not remember exactly the last time I properly stood up while our national anthem was played. If I recall correctly, I am more the less left sidetracked by the juggling of placing my over-tipping popcorn into the holder and scouring the grubby cinema chair. Where else these days do we get to listen to our qaumi tarana (national anthem) other than the big screen? I for one am past the age of going to school and standing in an assembly every morning, loudly chanting Pak sar zameen shaad baad…
So, it didn’t come as a surprise to me when a while back I read how a San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knowingly shrouded himself into a stormy controversy by not standing up to The Star-Spangled Banner.
Why is he protesting? He is obviously not distracted by popcorn I bet!
His kneeling down represented standing up for all the wrongdoings against the African Americans and other minorities in the United States of America (pun intended).
His decision to not stand up during the anthem before the start of the game in late August sparked a national debate on racial and social inequality. More importantly, it highlighted the police’s brutality against the black Americans which indisputably has exposed the differences between forces and the coloured communities in the United States.
In a country torn by racial violence between the so-called protectors of the innocent and the coloured public, this is not something totally new. The Americans and us Twitteratis are often used to waking up to the news of black men being shot by the law enforcement agents.
It hasn’t been long since the shooting of unarmed Trayvon Martin in Florida. I distinctively recall how for weeks if not months, all I could hear and read on the American publications, was the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old kid by a neighbourhood watch volunteer.
Couple of years down the road, the nation again went into frenzy after the Ferguson killing and the subsequent riots, when another teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by the police. And yes, let me tell you. Both the shooters were white. And the victims, black. The Americans had stirred up another civil rights movement.
Kaepernick is not the only athlete who has voiced his opinions against the violent tendencies of the police force. In recent past, NBA’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul have all vociferously used their fame and eminence to bring to light the social injustice affecting the minorities in Unites States.
Similarly, former Denver Nuggets star Chris Johnson, whom we now know more as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf after his conversion to Islam, fuelled another wrangle when he candidly cited the American flag as a symbol of oppression.
Right after the preseason game, which his side lost, Kaepernick explained his actions and said,
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
According to him, he will not respect American as long as “there are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
For him, “there’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality”.
“There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”
I doubt he will be standing up for the famous anthem anytime soon. The ‘significant change’ which Kaepernick and the likes wish to see will definitely take up more Martins and Browns, now that I foresee a certain Trump card going to be played soon.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.