What It Means To ‘Stay Woke’ In America Even If You’re Rich And Privileged


I’ve always liked Colin Kaepernick since he entered the NFL. His work ethic, commitment to the game, and heart for children, especially those with heart disease, speaks volumes of the man he has become. While he isn’t playing so well right now, and may not be able to regain the starting job from Blaine Gabbert this year, this football season is no less interesting than previous ones.

As it turns out, this season is not so much about football as it is about national issues that should concern us all. You see, football is just game. Two teams consisting of 11 players each enter the field, do their thing, and then exit back to the real world. At the end of the game, there is no real victory other than the fact that one team defeated another.

But the real world they must re-enter after football is a world in which black men and black boys are subjected to police mistreatment (Ironically, most of the NFL players are black). It is a world in which people of minority communities feel disenfranchised and hopeless. It is a world in which people who don’t have the luxury of driving sports cars and making millions of dollars playing the game they love, feel hated, unheard, and misunderstood.

This is a problem that we all should be concerned about on some level. It should bother us, no matter how far we are removed from it, that some person of color’s soul somewhere in America is going to lose his life to a gun at the hands of a police officer. We shouldn’t be content to let such issues exist in our world.

This is what Colin Kaepernick is doing. This is what he did at the 49ers preseason game against the Packers. And he doesn’t give two cents what the rest of the world thinks about it.

Standing when the national anthem is sung anywhere has been a tradition for years. But maybe it is time for tradition to be broken. While I’m sure some will disagree, appreciation for the men and women in uniform doesn’t solely come from a song, and it doesn’t come from reciting the pledge of allegiance either. This country’s national anthem obviously doesn’t hold much weight to cure social ills.

But yet thousands of people only show some acknowledgement of our military (who he allegedly disrespected) when they are called to attention to do so. It’s just another formality to get over and done with and get on to the game. And Colin Kaepernick has had enough with the formalities. So have I and so have other people who are consciously aware of the issues in our society.

We honor our veterans when we do something about the 45% of all homeless veterans who are African American or Hispanic, despite accounting for less then 15% of the entire U.S. veteran population. We show appreciation for the men and women who have bravely served our country when they no longer have to fight to get mental health care at U.S. hospitals.

Colin Kaepernick’s actions are not at all about disrespect for the military; we can debate that all day long. It also isn’t about whether he should have made his point in the way he did or not.

The real point here is if everybody stood up for a cause and committed to holding their stance until change happens, we might just see a brighter day when people are not judged based upon their skin color, and when people of color are not seen as threats, but as brothers and sisters.

Forget about the fake anger of those on social media who are too weak and gutless to stand up for anything themselves, but are quick to type their fingers away when someone else does. If you can’t find a cause to fight for, any cause at all, you don’t have the right to trample on someone else who has found their place in the world.

“Land of the free” doesn’t just me we are free to make our money and hide away in our comfortable little houses. Being free means we turn around and help someone else obtain their freedom too. True freedom is established when ALL are free.

“Land of the brave” doesn’t me we only stand at attention to honor those who have fought for our freedom. Being brave means we not only stand up for ourselves, but we take a stand for other people who don’t have the strength to stand at all.

You don’t have to fight against policy brutality or racial injustice. Your cause can be different. It can be for homeless veterans, for kids with cancer, for better mental health facilities. It really doesn’t matter what you’re fighting for. The only thing that matters is that you fight for something. Don’t look the other way. Be a part of the solution instead of the problem.

Deep down inside of us, we know our lives are meant to be so much more. Even when we have all the money and material possessions a single soul could ever want, we look forward to making our lives count in some special way. This is what Colin Kaepernick is after. Forget football glory. There are people dying unjustly and unnecessarily, and there are a whole lot more who can be saved, if just a few us stand up.

Looking back in history, I don’t think Rosa Parks sat down on that bus just for herself. She did it so that others could have the right to stand up. Channelling her, Colin Kaepernick knows that he’s rich and privileged, but he also knows that talk is cheap. Sometimes it takes a sit down to get everyone focused on the issues that are bigger than all of us.

And Kaepernick doesn’t care that you hate his stance or that you disagree with his position. He also doesn’t care if you take football away from him or strip him of his endorsement deals. This is the price of fiery commitment to a cause and he’s willing to pay it. Fame replaced with fulfillment makes a fine pillow to sleep on at night.

The question here is two-fold: What cause are you willing to fight for? And what price are you willing to pay to ensure victory?

Nothing changes until we ‘get woke’ about the issues that affect all of us. If your biggest problem is that Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand for the national anthem, you’re not brave enough to start a conversation that actually matters.