It is 63 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.
What does former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have to do with a countdown to the Nov. 6 election?
Quite a lot, actually.
Kaepernick’s National Football League career has been short (assuming he’s not able to return) but, like his playing style, alternating between moments of greatness and disappointment. He led his San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII and to the NFC Championship game the next year. He was exciting to watch, especially when he broke out of the pocket to scramble for yardage.
But that’s not why he’s back in the news today or why President Trump has been verbally assaulting him for more than a year.
It’s because he has the conviction to speak out to draw attention to injustice.
Last spring, Amnesty International honored Kaepernick with its top honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. An excerpt from his speech:
“It was James Baldwin who said, to be Black in America, ‘and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.’ My question is, why aren’t all people? How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, ‘freedom and justice for all,’ that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? How can you not be in rage when you know that you are always at risk of death in the streets or enslavement in the prison system? How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialized injustice?”
That is the more eloquent presentation of what he was silently stating when he began sitting … and then kneeling … during the national anthem prior to football games. While he was heavily lambasted for his protest, other players followed suit, opting to risk popularity to call attention to injustice.
Then, Trump began calling out those protesting racial injustice by executing his own personal brand of injustice – lying about it – and labeling their actions as being against the country and even its military. He called on the NFL to punish them and that’s gone back and forth, as has Kaepernick’s attempts to get back on the playing field.
Then, word got out Labor Day that Nike – that of athletic shoes, apparel and the famous swoosh – is making Kaepernick a face in its 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” advertising campaign.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. Just Do It.”
What a perfect message.
And that is how it applies to you getting to the ballot box this fall, and especially if you put your believe to work campaigning for Democratic candidates. (You thought I’d lost my train of thought, hadn’t you?)
I am no Colin Kaepernick, but I’ve had to put up with negative and even degrading comments from people I thought friends because I’ve taken political positions to protect people, their health, their economic situation, their freedoms. I’ve not sacrificed everything, but I have lost things.
It was difficult until I realized I was doing the right thing. If that’s the case, it matters not what others say about me.
That, my friend, is the lesson from a former NFL quarterback you can take into the midterm elections.
Do the right thing.
Just do it.