For nearly four years, opponents of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have been trying to label him as unpatriotic for first sitting, and then taking a knee, during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games.
Ever since the 2016 preseason, Kaepernick and his supporters have been trying to tell the public that he was attempting to bring attention to racial injustices, not taking a stance against the American flag.
During an interview with CNN on Sunday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said NFL players protesting during the national anthem could lessen the blowback by simply saying they love America.
"My personal feeling is," Secretary Carson told host Jake Tapper, "if those players would have come out and said 'We love our nation, we are patriots, we love our flag, we honor the memory of those who died to give us our freedom, but we are protesting some of the brutality that has occurred and that's why we are doing this.' I think that would solve a problem. And I suggest that they do that."
Ben Carson says Colin Kaepernick and black NFL players who protest police brutality would not be criticized for kneeling if they just said they love America. Problem solved. pic.twitter.com/HiO7ot2kAq
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 7, 2020
Here's the thing about Secretary Carson's statement, Kaepernick told reporters he loved America on Sept. 1, 2016 after he took a knee during the national anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
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"I'm not anti-America," Kaepernick told reporters. "I love America. I love people. That's why I'm doing this. I want to help make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from. "
The issue with police brutality and racial injustice that is plaguing the United States right now is the same issue Kaepernick was trying to draw attention to four years ago.
"That's something that's hard for this country to address, what the real issues are and coming to the point that we can admit that these are issues," Kaepernick said that night in 2016. "Once we admit that, we can deal with it, we can fix them and we can make this country and these communities a better place."
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In the wake of George Floyd's death while in police custody in Minnesota two weeks ago, it appears most of the country is ready to acknowledge the real reason Kaepernick was taking a knee during the national anthem.
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How Colin Kaepernick solved Ben Carson's 'America' problem in 2016 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area