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A player's quiet protest sparked an important national conversation.

The 49ers quarterback defends his decision to protest during the national anthem.

A player's quiet protest sparked an important national conversation.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat huddled on the bench before his team took on the Green Bay Packers in a preseason football game.

As the national anthem played, players on both teams stood to honor the flag. Kaepernick, however, wasn't among them.

This decision — not his electric play that led the team to the Super Bowl just a few seasons back — may very well go down as the defining moment in his career. He seems OK with that.


Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told the NFL of his decision.

The move was pretty shocking. After all, standing for the national anthem is just something that happens before sporting events in this country. His decision to sit it out was met with massive condemnation. It was tough to watch.

But he stood (or rather sat) firm, saying, "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."

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images.

So let's take a look at why the 28-year-old took a stand by taking a seat — in his own words.

Kaepernick has since elaborated on why he sat out, and it's worth hearing his explanation. By understanding his motives, perhaps it's easier to understand his methods. Below are some of the highlights (but you can check out the entire transcript here).

"There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable," he said about police brutality. "People are being given paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards."

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"To me, [protesting] is a freedom that we’re allowed in this country. And going back to the military, it’s a freedom that men and woman that have fought for this country have given me this opportunity by contributions they have made," he explained to those who criticized his decision to sit as being disrespectful to the military.

He doesn't see his move as disrespectful, however, and he certainly doesn't owe the military any sort of performative patriotism. The military has fought for his — and everyone's — opportunity to protest peacefully.

"This is something that has to be said, it has to be brought to the forefront of everyone’s attention, and when that’s done, I think people can realize what the situation and then really effect change," he said.

Protest and criticism aren't signs of hate, but rather of a desire to improve a home that you love, and there's certainly nothing un-American about protesting.

When Ryan Lochte embarrassed himself while acting as a representative of the United States with a lie about being mugged at gunpoint during the Rio Olympics, he was rewarded with a spot on a primetime TV show to explain himself. So why can't we cut Kaepernick a bit of slack for taking a principled stand against a well-documented pattern of injustice happening in our country? Of the two actions, Kaepernick's is far more inherently "American" than Lochte's, hands down.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Just a few weeks earlier, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas faced somewhat similar national anthem-based criticism after she failed to put her hand over her heart during a medal ceremony. Never mind the fact that other U.S. athletes did the same with relative silence from critics.

The truth is that America is a 240-year-long work in progress. Things can, and should, and if we're being optimistic enough, will become better as time goes on.

In order for that to happen, we cannot let ourselves remain complacent, and we cannot gloss over issues of inequality, oppression, and violence in our quest to become — as so many like to say — "the greatest country on Earth."

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

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It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

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