This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.
Colin Kaepernick has been named GQ’s 2017 Citizen of the Year. Some may not agree with this honor being given to Kaepernick. But regardless of your opinion of him, he’s getting people talking. Which is extremely important at a time when everyone is so afraid to say how they feel about certain issues. I may appear to come across as a bit of a left-wing softie, but I think it’s important for everyone to understand inclusion. What does that mean for us in 2017? What does that look like? Who are we excluding from the conversation as a result?
Getting back to Kaepernick. He is being called this generations civil rights leader by Olympian John Carlos. Carlos is known for raising his fist in protest during the 1968 Olympics. I wonder what it was like to be alive during those times? Did Carlos get as much flack as Kaepernick when it comes to this kind of protest? My guess is no, but that could also have something to do with the fact that the internet exists now. Word spreads faster, and more and more people (like myself) get to have opinions on these things.
Kaepernick makes an incredibly strong statement on the cover of the magazine. Kaepernick wears a very simple black leather jacket and turtleneck, which serve as a powerful backdrop for the GQ logo highlighted in three colors – you guessed it, red, white and blue. It’s kind of reminiscent of the protests of the 1960s and 1970s, isn’t it? But what I really like about all of this, is the article itself. Especially how Kaepernick is being described. Ava DuVernay had this to say about Kaepernick, and it struck a chord with me:
“I see what he’s done as art. I believe that art is seeing the world that doesn’t exist. A lot of people excel at creativity—making TV, movies, painting, writing books—but you can be an artist in your own life. Civil rights activists are artists. Athletes are artists. People who imagine something that is not there. I think some folks see his protests, his resistance, as not his work. Not intentional. Not strategic. Not as progressive action. As if this was just a moment that he got caught up in. This was work. This is work that he’s doing.”
Carmen Perez made an interesting point that is also worth noting. Especially when it comes to people who think – this has nothing to do with me. This isn’t my battle to fight. Maybe not, but it doesn’t have to be your battle to fight just for you to be concerned and involved in some way. Perez states:
“I want people to understand that even if incarceration doesn’t personally impact you, or police brutality doesn’t personally impact you, you can still be involved. How can we show these mothers who are suffering that we love them and we care about them? I often ask: Can we see our liberation bound to one another’s? I’m a proud Mexican-American and Chicana who deeply believes that black lives matter and that once black people are free, then my people will be free.”
I should note that Carmen Perez is an activist and executive director of The Gathering for Justice, which addresses mass incarceration and child incarceration. Both of these quotes really spoke to me as I think that they address two things. The first thing that they address is the fact that we look at Kaepernick as being anti-American or anti-patriotic. Or some people do anyway. But the fact is, he’s using his fame in order to change the culture in America. Perhaps you could argue the anti-American fact here, but change needs to occur. We can’t stand still. We have to constantly be evolving and changing. Which is what Kaepernick, in my opinion, is trying to do.
I also liked the Perez quote because it let us know that there’s a reason for all of us to be concerned about this issue. Regardless of whether or not we are personally impacted or not. You don’t have to have a family member in prison to know that there are people being imprisoned longer or more frequently just because of their skin color. There have been recent cases where someone who violates their parole gets a longer sentence than someone who has committed a heinous crime. And I don’t think I have to point out the difference in their skin color. The justice system isn’t perfect, but it’s not blind either. And it’s supposed to be. If you’re interested, read the full GQ article.