Rachel Charlene Lewis
August 28, 2016 11:06 am
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, refused to stand for the national anthem, a whole lotta people freaked out. Whenever someone, especially a celeb or an athlete, doesn’t follow every step of the norms surrounding the national anthem, people jump to call them “unpatriotic.” Like, remember when Gabby Douglas didn’t put her hand over her heart? It got so bad that her mom spoke out.

Colin Kaepernick explained his decision to refuse to stand.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said, according to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The team explained that standing isn’t required.

“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem,” the 49ers statement said.

Regardless, Colin Kaepernick stands by his decision.

“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said, according to NFL.com. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

So there you have it, folks. He’s not backing down, and the team supports the decision of players to stand, or not stand, and support, or not support, the national anthem. While it’s not always a political statement when a celeb or athlete doesn’t join in the national anthem, sometimes it is, and for Kaepernick this is a matter of justice. It’s hard to blame Kaepernick for not wanting to participate, as many have expressed frustration with the state of race relations in the U.S. even just this summer.

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