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Dousing the flames of ignorance

By Lizzy Stocks

From football fanatics to political enthusiasts, many are setting their Nike apparel ablaze.

Controversial football star Colin Kaepernick finds himself under fire once again after revealing his multi-year deal with Nike, making him one of the faces of the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

Since silently protesting during the national anthem at the start of the 2016 NFL preseason, Kaepernick has taken heat from fans on and off the field who perceived his protest as an attack on the military, the national anthem, and the American flag itself.

Nike’s campaign announcement came on Sept. 3 with just a black-and-white closeup of Kaepernick’s face with the phrase, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” This ad campaign not only sparked outrage among long-time opponents of Kaepernick, but it quite literally sparked fires around the nation as many long-time owners of Nike apparel burned their clothing in retaliation.

For those of you participating in this Nike “boycott,” I have but one phrase for you:

Just do it.

But more importantly, remember why you are doing it.

You are not burning your apparel because you love this country, or the military, or even the national anthem.

You are burning clothing you already own to “boycott” a company that already has your money because you are ignorant.

Kaepernick addressed the initial misperception of his silent protest in 2016 when he clarified in an interview that he was not protesting the military, but that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick went on to say, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Despite his efforts to correct a misinformed public, his actions were quickly denounced due to the common belief that one must stand for the national anthem to honor the brave who have sacrificed their lives in order to maintain a free country.

In an attempt to direct the narrative concerning his protest, Kaepernick met with former U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer to discuss why sitting for the national anthem is perceived as disrespectful. Boyer suggested Kaepernick should kneel rather than sit for the anthem to show respect and reverence to a country he feels is injured by the injustices faced by black people and people of color.

Shortly after his protest began, Kaepernick was blacklisted from the NFL after leaving the 49ers to become a free agent, and he was not signed for the 2017 season, despite being an accomplished player who’s previously led his team to the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick consistently attempted to redirect the controversy surrounding him back to topics that mattered to him the most: racism and police brutality in America. Yet, many chose to stay oblivious to facts, and in the end, it cost Kaepernick his football career.

Two years ago, Kaepernick began kneeling to shed light on these issues. It’s about time we put out the fires of ignorance and begin showing outrage for the true injustices that plague this nation.

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