Press Box: Promise over protest

Illustration by Iain Duffus
Illustration by Iain Duffus
Illustration by Iain Duffus
Illustration by Iain Duffus

A common criticism of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s infamous decision to kneel during the national anthem is that the act was an empty protest — an attention seeking ploy with no tangible implications.

However you feel about the manner in which Kaepernick chose to express himself is irrelevant. This is not another “to kneel, or not to kneel” article. We’ve all read too many of those.    

The fact of the matter is Kaepernick has put his money where his mouth is, and this needs to be recognized and celebrated regardless of whether or not you support his initial methods.

The hooplah surrounding Kaepernick has died down steadily since he first knelt on August 26, but while the embattled athlete has become a lightning rod in the national conversation surrounding the systematic oppression of people of color, behind the scenes he has done everything in his power to use the attention to make a real difference. is the official website of the Colin Kaepernick Foundation and the administrative home of the quarterback’s “million dollar pledge.”

Posted on the front page of the website below a photo of Kaepernick with a group of children who attended one of his “know your rights” camps, the foundation’s mission is to “fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism.”

Kaepernick plans to donate $100,000 a month over the course of a ten month period to various activist groups around the world. Each organization addresses social issues and racial inequality, matters Kaepernick hoped to draw attention to by kneeling for the national anthem.

The website will illustrate just how and where the money is spent so that the public has an accurate perception of how Kaepernick’s symbolic protest is manifesting in the real world.

“Everyone will be able to see exactly what organizations the money’s going to,” Kaepernick said to the Sacramento Bee. “Also we’ll make sure we get an itemized list from from the organizations of what they’re spending the money on, to make sure that not only I’m transparent in what I’m doing but that these organizations are transparent with where the money is going as well.”

Transparent may be an understatement. January is the fourth month of Kaepernick’s pledge, and his website includes a tab for each month which outlines the appropriation of funds down to the specific goals of each initiative.

For instance, Kaepernick’s October donation was broken into four $25,000 segments. The four organizations which received the donations — Silicon Valley De-Bug (San Jose, CA), Causa Justa/Just Cause (Oakland, CA), Urban Underground (Milwaukee, WI) and Mothers Against Police Brutality (Dallas, TX) — are listed along with their logos and mission statements on the October tab.

Under each organization, the money is divided into segments in accordance with how it was spent.

For example, $10,000 of the October donation was used by Silicon Valley De-Bug to implement a “healing and strategic planning retreat for California families who have lost loved ones to police violence.” Under this is a further description of what the program hopes to accomplish.

Urban Underground, a Milwaukee based community outreach organization, used $5,000 of the donation to buy a new van to take participants on retreats and another $3,465 to purchase new Mac computers for their student research lab.

Mothers Against Police Brutality of Dallas used $11,000 to “train and provide resources for three response teams to immediately provide comfort and support for families when law enforcement kills a community member.”

The list goes on, and that’s just October.

With his website, Kaepernick has established a level of transparency that should stand as an example for all who seek to come through on the promises associated with their protest.

No, we’re not all millionaire athletes with a readily available platform like Kaepernick. We can’t all have our opinions heard on a national scale, make million dollar pledges or hold camps for underprivileged youth.

What we can do is put our money where our mouth is, and be transparent in doing so. Protest is empty without a promise to back it up, and Kaepernick has made it clear that he understands this.

So throw out whatever convoluted feelings you have concerning his protest, and let’s give it to the guy for coming through on his promise — because that’s the part that really matters.       


Zach Joachim. Photo by Julie TrippZach Joachim
Zach is a junior pursuing a dual degree in print journalism and English. A proud Norfolk-ian, he enjoys long walks on the beach, English literature of the romantic period and anything pertaining to Harry Potter or baseball. Zach an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan who can usually be found working at the Student Media Center or running along the James.
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1 Comment

  1. Kaepernick is wasting his money.
    There are roughly 2500 black-on-black murders per year in the United States, a number that has been growing thanks to the “Ferguson effect”. Compare that to the roughly 250 blacks reportedly killed by cops last year.
    Consider this: In Dallas in 2015, there were 11 officer-involved shootings, five of them fatal. So why do they need three “response teams”? For such rare events, one should suffice. And of course on one night in July 2016 a gunman shot 12 cops, killing 5 of them. Seems like there is more of a need for “response teams” to support the police.
    Kaepernick helped somebody buy a van and some computers, and he put money in some other people’s pockets to run training sessions and retreats. It looks like a gigantic swindle to me.

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