A Simple and Silent Gesture
It is August 26 in the year of 2016
in the good ole US of A.
Colin Rand Kaepernick sits in the bench
during the anthem in San Francisco
to raise awareness . . .
because “the country oppresses black people
and people of color.”
He was known not to have stood for the anthem before.
That date passes by.
Writers of headlines get busy,
when Kaepernick sits down again a day later.
Reactions are two-fold: some condemn him,
and others applaud.
The NFL speaks up,
citing the lack of any requirement on their behalf
for their athletes to stand up for the anthem.
After three days, former NFL player
and ex-Green Beret Nate Boyer has a suggestion
for this young man of higher consciousness:
“kneel rather than sit.”
Kaepernick kneels before a game on September 1st, 2016
and goes on record with his plan for a donation
of $1 million to organizations that support his intent,
as I have noted earlier, “to raise awareness”
for the centuries-long systemic racism in the country.
September 11, 2016 marks the first full day
of the regular season.
Several players kneel during the anthem.
On Sept. 27, 2016, Kaepernick becomes the subject
of harsh criticism from the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The young man responds: “He always says make America great again.
Well, America has never been great for people of color.
That’s something that needs to be addressed.
Let’s make America great for the first time.”
Kaepernick plays his final NFL game on January 1st, 2017.
The 49ers plan to cut him.
He opts out of his contract instead.
The month of September of the same year
witnesses players’ kneeling before
and / or during the anthem
without the civil rights activist in the league.
In the following month,
Kaepernick files a grievance against NFL team owners.
He cites collusion to keep him out of the league.
The powers that be, unfortunately, have a final say.
NFL season ends on December 31, 2017,
having made certain that this epic role model
for equal justice remains unemployed.
Less than a year afterward, NFL owners construct a rule
banning kneeling during the anthem.
It is ‘president’ Trump now . . . as he has made it
into the People’s House. He applauds the divisive initiative.
NFL owners soon retract the rushed rule
because of its divisiveness.
As the second straight season begins –
sans the name “Kaepernick” on a roster,
some players still kneel . . .
The third NFL season enters the world’s calendar,
and ends eventually.
Following the murder of George Floyd, a black man,
on May 25, 2020, nationwide protests begin.
Numerous other sports organizations
join the cause of awareness,
to include the NBA, Baseball, and many more.
Kaepernick offers support.
A few months later, the NFL apologizes, denounces racism
and delivers a promise to further promote social justice.
Thank you for your simple and silent gesture,
dear Mr. Kaepernick.
Your gentle voice was and continues to be
loud enough to stay at the core
of many an equality-for all-seeking soul.
Hopefully, for us all, generations to come
will embrace your contribution to humanity,
understanding and knowing that social injustice
is our common enemy.
Thank you for showing this ‘white’ woman
that which we all-inclusively must fear.
So, in humble solidarity,
I, too, kneel.
Ever so respectfully.
*This poem is one of my three submitted for the February issue of The Year of the Poet VIII to be published by Inner Child Press International.