Will social, sports activism lead to systemic change?

By kneeling during a celebrated custom in America's favorite sport, Colin Kaepernick has spear-headed a modern message of social activism.

By kneeling during the singing of the National Anthem, a routine custom to tip-off sports games in America, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spear-headed a modern method of social activism.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

One month after NFL reporter Steve Wyche brought San Francisco 49ers’ Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest to light, the conversation surrounding the motive and method of his actions continue to surge. While some are still debating whether the protest is offensive or not, many have joined the cause to highlight the disparity in the treatment of people of color, particularly unarmed black men, by the police.

After making his intentions clear, Kaepernick's profile increased enough to land him on the cover of October's Time magazine. His popularity has also grown as his soaring jersey sales clearly prove.

After making his intentions clear, Colin Kaepernick’s profile increased enough to land him on the cover of the Time magazine for the first week in October. His popularity has also grown and his g jersey sales continue to soar.

Kaepernick has been clear that the motive for his actions is to create dialogue and bring awareness to the issue of police brutality and misconduct, especially towards people of color. He also stated, “There’s a lot of people who don’t want to have this conversation. You know they’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get endorsements, they might not be treated the same way. And those are things I’m prepared to handle.”

There was no way to predict the reaction to Kaepernick’s stance, yet the amount of support he has received has to be encouraging to people who are tired of seeing people of color die at the hands of the police, who are paid to protect them. When police murder unarmed black and Latino civilians without facing any consequence they send a message that the lives that they take lack value due to their skin color.

Countless others have joined the cause to bring awareness to the unjust treatment of people of color.

Countless others have joined the cause to bring awareness to the unjust treatment of people of color.

Kaepernick has done what many who support the BlackLivesMatter movement have been trying to do for months, simplify the message with a simple, non-violent gesture of protest. His jersey has become a symbol, no longer celebrating the San Francisco 49ers and their rich NFL history, but of a person willing to face adversity to make a stand for the greater good. To date, over 50 NFL players have joined the protest by kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem. Countless athletes across other sports have also made the same gesture and the statement has been made in classrooms as well as political forums.

While the protest receives the headlines, there seems to be positive action resulting from the heightened attention. According to statistics revealed by reporters Ken Klippenstein and Paul Gottinger, “A Gallup poll conducted in July showed confidence in police is at a 22-year low.” The same publication highlights that the rate of police indictments have increased by 5 times over the last 5 plus months.

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby (left) was indicted within a week of the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher (right).

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby (left) was indicted within a week of the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher (right).

The swift indictment of Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby after she killed Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose vehicle broke down in the middle of the street last week, instead of helping him get his vehicle towed so that he could go home to his family, shows an ebbing tide away from the days of simply taking the police’s word in these tragic events.

As Kaepernick and other social activists continue to shine the light on injustice in this area, it’s possible that sustained activism will result in enough positive change that will, in turn, help to address other major social issues that plague the nation.–OnPointPress.net