Witten by Mike Freeman| Photo: Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

NFL Still Shunning Colin Kaepernick Because of His Politics, Not His Play

This is the last time I will write about Colin Kaepernick until he signs or retires, whichever comes first. Writing about Kaepernick, who still awaits a job offer after opting out of his deal with the 49ers to become a free agent in March, takes years from your life. Sniffing glue through a straw while submerged in a pool of methane is healthier. 

When you tweet about Kaepernick, clowns, socially backward people and Twitter users with green frogs in their avi tweet back. You argue with friends and non-friends alike. Professional journalists you used to respect tell you that you’re dumb. (And while I am dumb, I’m not on this.)

 Kaepernick, in many ways, continues to dominate the offseason. Mention his name to teams—even now—and you may be subject to a curse-filled rant. This happened after I tweeted about Kaepernick this week. My phone blew up with texts from team executives saying Kaepernick betrayed his country by shunning the national anthem. This is not the first time general managers and others in the league have said this to me. It won’t be the last.

The tweet stirred fans as well, prompting thousands (and counting) of likes and led to an outpouring of both support and vitriol toward Kaepernick from fans. All this for a player who isn’t even in the league.

The reason Kaepernick still hasn’t been signed, I’ve been told by dozens of team officials this week, is because of the political stance he took in not standing for the flag last season to protest racial inequality. Believe that. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

Why does this story still affect us the way it does? Kaepernick is planning to stand for the anthem this fall. He spent a day handing out suits at a New York City parole office. Yet everyone remains hardened in their positions on him, refusing to leave their various corners on it.

Part of the answer is in Peter King’s recent MMQB.com column, in which 49ers officials told him they believe Kaepernick preferred activism to playing football. The report caused a huge reaction on social media, leading The Nation’s Dave Zirin to contact Kaepernick, who told Zirin explicitly he wanted to still play. Zirin posted Kaepernick’s response on Twitter.

It was a fascinating moment. A team tried to create a false narrative about Kaepernick, and he responded almost in real time. Zirin’s post sparked yet another discussion on social media that veered beyond football and into politics and issues of social justice. [read more…]

Written by Dave Zirin

Colin Kaepernick’s Message to Chicago Youth: ‘Know Your Rights’

It starts with Colin Kaepernick. The free-agent NFL quarterback came to the South Side of Chicago last Saturday to hold one of his Know Your Rights Camps: full-day youth seminars that Kaepernick organizes, funds, and emcees. Already staged in New York City and the Bay Area, with more cities to come, these are not open events for sports fans, the press, or random people. Their aim is to speak directly to black, brown, and economically disadvantaged youth, invited through local community organizations, about history, nutrition, legal rights, and financial literacy. As Kaepernick said to me, “Every city has grassroots resources. Our goal is to raise awareness about those resources and help young people access them to empower themselves and the people around them.”

It might start with Colin Kaepernick, but it doesn’t end with him. There is a young multiracial network of roughly 50 Know Your Rights volunteers. They have flown in from all over country to handle logistics at the event’s site, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Hyde Park. These are people like Kerem from Orange County who said, “This message is about equal rights. Often people in underserved communities don’t understand that they have these rights and they need to claim them…. Colin has sacrificed a lot to get to this point. It shows he is passionate about this and we all feed from that.”

Another volunteer, someone just hanging out in a Know Your Rights T-shirt, was Kaepernick’s San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid. “I came here to support Colin,” he said to me. “I want to show these kids that there are people who want them to succeed despite how they may feel when they go to school. But I also came here to learn.”

Reid also spoke about the last season of anthem protests, where he kneeled alongside Kaepernick. He explained in a quiet but proud voice, “All we wanted to do was expand the discussion. People were being killed by police and we wanted that recognized and discussed. And I think we accomplished that.”

The day started with breakfast: eggs, yogurt, biscuits, and fruit for the 200 young people who were at the door by 9:00 am. A 12-year-old named Daymien gave up the opening game of his baseball season to attend. “I wanted to play today, but I think this is more important,” he said. “I wanted to come here for knowledge and learn my history.” In addition to the breakfasts and lunches provided, young people were given… [read more…]


Written by Evan F. Moore

A Look Inside Colin Kaepernick’s Chicago “Know Your Rights” Camp

Arming youth with silent weapons to fight hidden wars

Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp came to Chicago at a crucial time.

A few weeks earlier, I had a Twitter discussion with a former Chicago Tribune colleague about the city’s violence. We talked about how people who are most affected by shootings can channel the outrage into some sort of social change. 

And Mother’s Day is coming up. Last year, eight people were murdered, while another 46 were wounded in shootings across the city that weekend. Multiple local media outlets reported that the Chicago Police Department said it was the city’s most violent weekend in eight months at that time.

Kaepernick’s camp gave Chicago’s marginalized black and brown communities a blueprint to help themselves.

“We want to give you the tools to uplift yourselves and uplift your communities. It’s going to be you who is going to change your communities,” Kaepernick told the campers.

Over 200 students from the Chicago area packed into the auditorium of The DuSable Museum of African American History last Saturday on Chicago’s South Side. The museum is named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian man was the first non-Indian settler of Chicago.

The camp was the third one Kaepernick and his foundation held since last season (Oakland and New York).

The camp had breakout sessions that gave the campers advice on how to deal with police officers when detained, financial literacy, holistic health and college preparation among other things.

The camp’s tenets are as follows:

  1. You have the right to be free.
  2. You have the right to be healthy.
  3. You have the right to be brilliant.
  4. You have the right to be safe.
  5. You have the right be loved.
  6. You have the right to be courageous.
  7. You have the right to be alive.
  8. You have the right to be trusted.
  9. You have the right to be educated.
  10. You have the right to know your rights.

The list of rights is an adaptation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s Ten-Point Plan.

One of the sessions gave the campers a detailed history of why Chicago is America’s most segregated city, while another told the campers the perils of processed food and why there’s so many fast foods restaurants in black and brown communities.

After the camp, Kaepernick gave out back packs that contained ancestry kits and a copy of the Autobiography of Malcolm X.

It seems that the moment that Kaepernick realized that he hadn’t had knowledge of self was similar to the experiences Malcolm X had in prison when he converted to Islam, which is detailed in his autobiography.

“For me the growth in my knowledge through some of the research my woman helped through,” Kaepernick told the campers. “I was able to identify myself with… [read more…]