last week, i became a colin kaepernick fan. before last week, i’m pretty sure i didn’t know who he was. then he sat down during the national anthem at a football game (actually, he did similar at all the 49rs preseason games, the game against the packers was the one where a reporter noticed him and asked him about what he was doing). and then, as most everyone probably knows by now, the internet was engulfed by a shit storm of boiling, self-righteous outrage directed at kaepernick and his blatant disregard for everything decent and upright in america.
hateful memes found their way onto my FB feed, each with its requisite contrail of spittle-flecked commentary spewed forth by blustering, spleen-venting keyboard hammerers who seemed to take a sort of perverse pleasure in being offended by what they alleged to be kaepernick’s lack of patriotism, lack of talent on the field, lack of personal exposure to oppression (because he’s a rich, privileged, mixed-race athlete raised by white parents so what would he know about it, how dare he), naivete, thoughtlessness, disrespect, etc. reading that stuff makes me really tired, but i confess, i often can’t help myself.
i inched away from the meme-ranting and started reading actual articles and blogs with actual words and sentences, but a lot of them haven’t been much better. Prejudice and racism don’t look any less pernicious, even when they’re dressed up with fancy writing and ostensibly reasoned arguments. Luckily, I finally started to tap into the wealth of support that Kaepernick has received, and as a result i have, over the past week, read a lot of fantastic work by thoughtful, sensitive people who’ve brought – in addition to support for kaepernick and his decision to protest – nuance, perspective and humour to the discussion.
man oh man, i feel like i haven’t done anything for a week except read a