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7 Tips for Colin Kaepernick

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Colin Kaepernick (#7) when he played for the San Francisco 49ers kneels for the national anthem (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick (#7) when he played for the San Francisco 49ers kneels for the national anthem (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback who gained fame by kneeling during the national anthem, was just awarded the National Education Association’s President’s Award.

With three million members, the group is the largest professional employee organization in the country. It works at every level – from pre-school to university – and in every state to further public education.

Kaepernick was responsible for starting a protest movement in the sports world when he refused to stand during the obligatory playing of The Star Spangled Banner in protest of racial injustice in the U.S., particularly in regards to police brutality.

He was awarded the honor from the National Education Association for creating Know Your Rights Camp, a self-empowerment campaign for youth to raise their awareness about higher education and give them instruction on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.

We at Clarion Project are in the business of fighting injustice. Based on our experience, here are seven tips we are offering to Kaepernick in his quest to fight injustice:

  1. Use your platform to build, not tear down. If you want the next generation to be part of the solution and not the problem, teach them how. (Check out this book for a great model: Sharing Turf: Race Relations After the Crown Heights Riots.) It’s sad to see how much ground we have lost since the advent of identity politics.
  2. Keep in mind how much progress has been made in the U.S. It’s all about perspective. While there are still things to correct, we’ve come a long way.
  3. As a role model for youth, consider using a different modus operandi than kneeling for the national anthem. Again, better to be positive than negative.
  4. Disrespect of the national anthem is not just a statement of protest about the state of bigotry in the country. It is a statement against the country’s founding principles. I get it, one of those principles is freedom of speech and expression. However, don’t we want our youth to respect these principles? Don’t make the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
  5. If we don’t respect the founding principles of our country, why should others respect it? Being that I’m from the Clarion Project, I’m thinking of Islamists who want to replace the constitution with sharia law. But you get the idea. It applies to every group.
  6. Protest in the country has gotten out of hand. It has moved into the realm of incivility – from the new culture of shaming to the violence perpetrated by the ironically named Antifa movement. In our sector, Islamists have managed to corner the conversation, framing legitimate criticism of political Islam as “Islamophobia.” It is now a common occurrence on college campuses that speakers who are deemed by the Left as venturing out of their “safe spaces” are shouted down. Not much freedom of speech there. In your quest to right the wrongs of racial injustice, don’t add fuel to this fire. It’s not going to end in a pretty place.
  7. Your campaign can have far-reaching consequences. Don’t underestimate your power to do good in the world.

 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org