When Colin Kaepernick decided to protest racism by refusing to stand for the national anthem, he received both support and criticism from people across the nation. Numerous players around the NFL have joined the San Francisco 49ers quarterback by kneeling during the anthem as well, but the conversation ignited even further when they continued the protest on 9/11.
Detractors including model/actress Kate Upton objected to the protest and said it was “even more horrific” to sit during the anthem on September 11th. She posted a picture of four Miami Dolphins players who knelt during the anthem on 9/11 and posted a long caption about honoring the men and women who have sacrificed to protect the freedom of Americans, and to show pride in the country.
In an exclusive for The Undefeated, Russell Simmons penned a response to Upton and others who have an issue with Kaepernick’s protest and the timing.
Simmons pointed out that it’s never the right time to protest, noting the bus boycott in Montgomery, and Muhammad Ali refusing to fight in the Vietnam War during the height of his career.
“Protesting when the nation honors its great heroes highlights the long bridge between injustices. For those who have been left uncomfortable, I would say that’s the whole point of these courageous acts. Being uncomfortable is what creates change in people, and change in people changes systems, and systems in our country that need change have deep roots in racial oppression, including policing and the criminal justice system.”
Simmons also explained that the digital revolution, media pressure, and pure exposure of the protests allows ‘the opportunity to foster better relationships between the police and the communities they serve.’ There’s also special prosecutors being brought in during the police shootings of unarmed citizens and the increased presence of body cameras.
In closing, he expressed the need for compassion, empathy, and understanding needed to unite the country.
“My friend, as we attempt to move forward in this country, compassion has to be the torch that shines light on our path. The human heart has the ability to open up to the suffering of all people, even when the timing of its expression makes others uncomfortable.”