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The Black Lives Matter Global Network proudly supports the recent protest actions of San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and applauds the conviction of his message. Endemic systems of oppression are interwoven into the core of American society and our movement values Black athletes, artists, and performers who use their platform in service of Black lives – directing much needed attention to the systems of violence upon which America survives.


There is a long history of activism amongst Black athletes, and Kaepernick follows in footsteps of Jim Brown, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Muhammad Ali. It is critical that Black culture makers and culture shifters use their crafts, talents, and voices to bring attention to the lasting effects of institutional racism and violence; the existence of which is obvious in the implicit bias and discrimination of urban housing, mass incarceration, and police brutality. Emblems such as the American flag and star-spangled banner are reminiscent of a nation built upon the backs of slaves, a nation willfully ignorant to the perpetuation of systemic racism.


Refusal to acknowledge such symbols is not disrespectful to the courageous people serving in the Armed Forces, but an open acknowledgment of the dichotomy inherent to the establishment of this nation. Whether evidenced by the Buffalo Soldiers or Tuskegee Airmen, Black Americans have long battled the negotiation of an existence in a society openly violent towards their sacrifices. This nation has the potential to be more than just a physical place. It can be an exemplification of the best humanity has to offer – not a supposed melting pot requiring the erasure of multiple peoples, but a pluralistic culture that rejoices in the beauty of juxtaposition.


America is an idea, and it cannot fully be brought to fruition until people of all classes, categories, and delineations posses the agency, dignity, and equality inalienable to their existence.