I appreciate this image of Colin Kaepernick’s initial “silent” protest especially given the image of people behind him with their hands on their hearts and the people in front of him in military uniform. The image seems to capture a good deal of the argument against Kaepernick. People claim that by kneeling during the anthem Kaepernick disrespects those who serve in the military. So the angle of photograph here is really poignant.
Kaepernick’s use of gesture as protest resonates with much of what we will talk about in class. The rhetorical situation is such that the speaker (Kaepernick) knows his audience (NFL fans) value loyalty and patriotism. By moving his body in a way that thwarts their expectations, he is communicating disagreement, disunity. Because we hear arguments against police shootings of black women and men all the time we’ve become rather deaf to them; they cease to create change. Kaepernick’s use of the gestural mode, given his popularity (by the way his jersey is selling out since he began his protest) and status as an entertainer/athlete, really kicks the conversation to a new level.
Kaepernick later iterated explicitly his reasons for protest: As relayed by NFL reporter, Steve Wyche, Kaepernick told the media, “‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color’…’To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.'”
What do you think about Kaepernick’s argument and the way he communicates his argument?