Is Kap Too Big for the NFL?

Colin Kaepernick should be on an NFL roster. 

More specifically, Colin Kaepernick should be on the Chicago Football Bears. Even MORE specifically, every NFL GM who failed to signed Kap in the past five years should be forced to personally bankroll the campaign of one-to-five senators who would vote to reauthorize voting rights for Black people.

But Kap is not in the NFL. And even as the nation comes to agree that—shocker—the man the president called a “son of a bitch” for demanding an end to extrajudicial police killings was probably in the right, it doesn’t appear anyone is set to sign him.

That’s a travesty, but not a surprise. Be it domestic violence policies, player safety, or the definition of a catch, “travesty” is a pretty good word to describe most of the NFL. 

So the question at this point is really whether Kaepernick should even want to play in the NFL. His Nike deal is worth millions per year, with his own brand of apparel reportedly in the works. His Know Your Rights Camp has emerged as one of the most prominent civil rights organizations of the recent movement. He’s set to narrate an Ava Duvernay-produced Netflix docuseries about his life.

He is, in the most cliched way, bigger than football.

Which gets back to the question of whether it would even make sense for him to spend his time playing a game when he could be affecting policy. 

Certainly, he’s got every right to do whatever he wants, and I can say from experience* that it’s exceedingly fun to play professional football when you have his kind of arm strength, speed, and agility. He’s already done more than enough for one lifetime off the field, and no one would blame him for taking a nice payday to back up Tom Brady for the next 15 to 20 years.

But suddenly the NFL feels too small for him. His return would be like Jordan going to Birmingham, or Obama being president. Yeah, he can probably do it… but why would he?

With Washington changing its name and nearly every major sports league embracing his message, Kaepernick’s return at once feels inevitable and impossible. By blackballing him, the NFL has backed itself into a corner from which the only escape is a roster spot. But by so forcefully winning in this billion-dollar-industry vs. mobile-QB-from-Nevada fight, Kaepernick would be almost degrading himself if he were to return.

Admittedly, I’m probably getting ahead of myself. Maybe the NFL will continue to snub him. No one’s ever lost money betting on oligarchs to do the wrong thing.

But if the day comes when Kap suits back up in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine it’ll be satisfying.

*Legal note: I cannot say this from experience.

A Totally Random Thought LOL

So, like, I was thinking and, like, I had a total ~crazy~ idea that’s like super funny but what if all of the people who said Donald Trump wasn’t elected for being a racist were LOL totally wrong and haha he is just a racist and that’s why they elected him and IT’S. JUST. WILD. because white Americans have enjoyed never having to change their way of thinking and, like, LOL they realized we may actually have to start moving towards real equality 😉 after having a Black president didn’t magically make racism disappear WHICH IS CRAZY BCUZ I TOTALLY THOUGHT IT WOULD 😛 and lol then they were like “I don’t LOVE oppression but I’m supes afraid of real equality and racial justice because my grandparents did some p fucked up stuff to make sure Black people didn’t live in their neighborhood” then *oop* they voted for the guy who started his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists but it was chill because he did concede some of them are okay so it’s not a race thing except the whole putting kids in cages thing so I guess that was a racism (?) but the stock market was booming so yay racism (!!) jk but really they did enjoy the racism because it freed them from the PC police who made them do bads like not say the N word and call people by their names which is totes hard since I hate people and their stupid names UGH and now the president is retweeting people saying “white power” except he didn’t hear that part because ~he doesn’t hear color~ which we used to think was a no no don’t do except all of the indoor racists are now outdoor racists and lol I know it’s just a random idea but 😉 maybe forty percent of our country just wants to kill Black people haha OOP

History Isn’t Being Erased. It’s Being Engraved.

As the protests following the death of George Floyd have mushroomed into a broad-based nationwide movement for criminal justice reform and racial equality, we have seen scores of statues and monuments associated with slavery and the Confederacy toppled. And on the heels of these dismantled monuments, like clockwork, traditionalists have emerged from the woodwork to admonish the protesters against “trying to erase history.” They would argue that we should leave intact these statues—which memorialize people who fought and died to protect the institution of slavery—because to destroy them would constitute an Orwellian revision of our history that would doom us to repeat it.

But to tear down these monuments to the progenitors of our nation’s greatest sin would not be to erase our history. In fact, it would accomplish the exact opposite: it would help accelerate the generations-long, arduous process of moving this horrific era in our nation’s past from the most accessible layers of our cultural memory, where it currently resides, to our history, where it belongs.

The distinction between memory and history is crucially important, because history is nothing more than a catalog of events that have filled our nation’s history, but memory is what those events mean to us and how we carry them today. We don’t get to choose our history, but to a large extent, we get to choose our memory. What is happening right now in cities across the nation is a rare and remarkable thing: enormous, powerful masses of American citizens declaring, in real time, that America’s shameful story of slavery belongs in its history, not in its memory. 

To remove something from our memory is not to diminish its importance or deny that there are valuable lessons (very valuable lessons) to be drawn from a certain piece of history. It is simply to assert that our children and our grandchildren and every generation thereafter should live in a nation where they study something as history, rather than live it as part of a present reality. In this case, it is an assault not on the history of slavery, but on its persisting legacy, which is perpetuated and reasserted every time someone walks past a Robert E. Lee High School or a Jefferson Davis Boulevard. After all, memory is what ties the past to the present, and to sever that cultural link is a vital step to moving on not just from a piece of history, but from its pervasive and lasting effects.

If citizens or governments don’t take deliberate, decisive action to turn memory into history, there’s no telling how long a piece of history can sit prominently in a nation’s cultural memory. Take Serbia, for example, whose most celebrated national holiday commemorates a battle that took place in 1389. Or look at the Middle East, where geopolitical relationships are complicated by a religious schism that happened in the 7th century. History can have tremendous staying power—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Americans tend not to look at history with as long a view as in most other parts of the world, so it doesn’t seem to occur to many people that this could be an issue that plagues our country for centuries to come. People seem to believe that, with the passage of time, the legacy of slavery will slowly evaporate like a glass of water. Perhaps they’re right. But it’s certainly not difficult to imagine this issue staying in our memory, lodged in our present rather than in our history, for generations and generations.

Doing away with publicly sanctioned monuments to those that fought to preserve slavery goes a long way toward dislodging its legacy from our memory and etching into the checkered annals of our history. It is but a fraction of the work that will be required to make reparations and forge a society anew, but it is among the easiest concrete things we can do right here and right now to move forward. To do so would not be a disservice to American history; the real disservice to American history would be to keep the legacy of slavery in its current role as a bedrock of our cultural memory.

Introducing: Google

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, huh? One day, you’re carelessly walking down the street singing Lana del Rey. The next day you find out that DESPITE Green Book winning Best Picture, racism is APPARENTLY still a thing??? It’s wild. At times like these, you instinctively want to turn to your friends who are knowledgeable about what’s going on to get support. However, after realizing your friends are pretty fucking white, you have decided to turn to an even better source of support: That one black person from your junior year English class that you’re pretty sure you worked with on a group project. You ask them everything, from where to donate, to how to protest, to how to define the word “systemic”. And UGH (!!!) they’re all like, “I’m sorry, but I do not have time to talk to you about this and also I wasn’t in your English class.”

Well, despite their selfishness, I have good news for you: I have discovered a new tool that will help answer all of your pressing questions. Introducing: Google.

For the uninformed, Google is an A-MAZ-ING thing on the internet that lets you discover relevant information. From “What is racism?” to “Are you sure I can still be a racist if I like the movie Barbershop?”, Google is a gateway to sorting out all of the questions that are driving you crazy, but you can’t seem to find a black distant acquaintance to answer. Best of all, Google will connect you with a bunch of other crazy new tools that can help fill in your knowledge gaps—like Reddit, for finding out whether you can be a furry and a racist at the same time (you can!), or Twitter, for discovering whether people will threaten a hate crime on a public forum (they will!).

During this uncertain time, we are all looking for answers. With Google, you have that knowledge at your fingertips. Now, go forth and educate yourself—then spend twelve times as much time repeating and iterating the small bit of knowledge you learned. We’re counting on you.