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One of the most common complaints critics of Colin Kaepernick’s protests make is that kneeling during the national anthem doesn’t actually do anything to change the status quo. And that’s true; protest without action is just agitation. But Kaepernick has backed up his words with actions, and on Wednesday, he’ll complete his pledge to donate $1 million dollars to social justice causes. To date, he’s donated $900,000 to 31 organizations; the full accounting is at his website.
Kaepernick announced his intent to complete the donations in an Instagram video:
Kaepernick noted on Instagram that for him, it has “been a privilege to be able to do my part in helping organizations like Mother’s Against Police Brutality to provide comfort and support for families when law enforcement kills a community member, Helping Oppressed Mothers Endure to provide furniture to single mothers and Meals on Wheels who feed those less fortunate—just to highlight a few. Hearing about how each organization utilized the donations reaffirms that people doing good work need more support.”
The final $100,000 will be doled out in $10,000 installments, each with a “celebrity match.” The first celebrity to match Kaepernick’s gift is the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant; both he and Kaepernick will donate $10,000 apiece to Silicon Valley De-Bug, a charitable advocacy organization.
The protests that dominated NFL headlines this past season dated back to Kaepernick’s original decision to kneel during the anthem in the 2016 preseason as a way to protest police brutality and social inequality. Kaepernick spent the rest of the 2016 season kneeling during the anthem, and a handful of fellow players supported him during that season. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers after being told he would be cut, but was not signed by another NFL team despite clear statistical evidence that he was a more effective quarterback than many of the dozens signed in his wake. Kaepernick didn’t play at all during the 2017 season, and the likelihood now is that his time in the NFL is done; his on-field contributions wouldn’t be worth the headaches his signing would bring a team, and a backup gig wouldn’t be worth sacrificing his standing as a voice of protest.
Many Americans won’t ever forgive Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem; for them, Kaepernick committed the unforgivable sin of disrespecting the nation’s flag. But a $1 million donation is a notable sum that’s out of reach for most Americans; if nothing else, Kaepernick’s critics have to recognize that he’s backed up his provocative words with equally notable deeds.
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