RBG’s response to Kaepernick deserves no standing ovation

Illustration by Skye Ali
Illustration by Skye Ali
Illustration by Skye Ali
Illustration by Skye Ali

Due to the significant amount of media coverage, most Americans have already formed an opinion on probably the most interesting thing to happen in sports since boxer Mike Tyson bit off competitor Evander Hoyfield’s ear: Colin Kaepernick protesting during the national anthem.

For those living under a 21st century rock, here’s a quick recap of the controversy surrounding Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback:

In his team’s third preseason game of the year, Kaepernick chose to remain seated during the singing of the national anthem to symbolize his disapproval of the treatment of Black Americans. His actions spoke volumes to some, but left many others feeling both offended and disrespected.

Since then, Kaepernick’s actions have been met with a myriad of responses, including affirmation by other professional athletes such as Megan Rapinoe and Derek Jeter, who have also participated in or defended the practice.

One dissenter, however, rose above the rest and is what I find most concerning: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion of Kaepernick.

In an interview with Katie Couric earlier this month, Ginsburg compared Kaepernick’s actions to the likeness of flag burning.

“I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it,” Ginsburg said.

What Ginsburg doesn’t seem to understand is Kaepernick’s actions were not rooted in the mentality of most who commit acts such as flag burning and intend to exhibit their abhorrence for the United States.

Kaepernick refusing to stand during the anthem was not only indicative of where he stands on issues that have been affecting Black lives — with police brutality at the forefront — but also symbolizes what so many people of color learn at an early age: America is not meant for everybody.

Now before you all start emailing me and listlessly threaten to send letters to the editor, allow me to scratch the surface of the vastly complex issue we are trying to dissect:

A country cannot support the claim of being a land where all are equal when a great deal of the people are completely disenfranchised and marginalized in entire groups.

A country cannot be equal when various groups watch as they are disadvantaged economically, educationally and socially at institutional levels.

A country cannot be a place where there is promised “freedom for all,” but law enforcement kills those they have sworn to protect.

Kaepernick’s protest was not one of treason, nor was it an insult to America, and it certainly was not “dumb” as Ginsburg suggested.

It is completely acceptable to love an entity — whether a person, place or thing — and still criticize it for its shortcomings in hopes of bettering a future relationship.

Furthermore, I am profoundly perplexed by Ginsburg, an individual born in 1933 and lived through Jim Crow, segregation, integration and the Civil Rights movement.

Ginsburg has since apologized for her comments, saying she was hardly aware of the incident or it’s purpose, recognizing her comments were harsh and dismissive.

Still, Kaepernick’s actions were both completely warranted and exactly what America needed to see. I am glad an individual with influence and exposure chose to make a statement about issues that affect not only him, but millions of Americans.

Aside from being an athlete, Kaepernick should be granted the agency and space to speak his mind — whether America likes it or not.


Shaun Jackson. Photo by Sarah KingShaun Jackson
Shaun is a senior studying psychology. He is a fashion columnist for INK Magazine and radio host for WVCW 102.9. Shaun is really silly and loves to read good books and bad people. He’s always “fashionably” late to the after-work hang-out sessions, but always shows up with the latest tea. Shaun is passionate about feminist hip-hop, pop culture and being the center of attention. His spirit animals are Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn from the DC Comics. You can usually find Shaun playing video games at the front desk of the SMC or next at Velocity Comics.


Skye LimSkye Ali
Skye is a senior majoring in Communication Arts and minoring in Psychology. She is passionate about illustration and finding creative spaces to have open discussions about mental illness. A fervent animal lover, she would probably be a herpetologist in another life.
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