Colin Kaepernick is mastering the master and white America can’t handle it. Five minutes after it was announced today that he will be the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary campaign Appalachian Twitter blew up with disgust.

I want to refresh your memory about the crime Kaepernick committed that marks him as a target for white rage.

He took a knee. That’s all.

After consulting with a former green beret Kaepernick was convinced the most respectful way to protest America’s lack of attention to the issue of police abuses in black communities was to forgo standing during the National Anthem at football games.

For the record, he did this in America. Home of the free and all that shit.

He’s been blacklisted, but unbowed, since.

Which brings me to the most memorable scene in the epic 1970s miniseries Roots where Kunta Kinte was strung up on a post and whipped until he accepted the English name.

His captor who said: “When the master gives you something you take it. He gave you a name. It’s a nice name. It’s Toby. And it’s going to be yours until the day you die.”

When Kunta refused to say the new name he was beaten until he did.

That’s the art of white supremacy. It gives black people two options, both of which defy pride and humanity. You either succumb to what the whiteness wants you to be, or whiteness will brake you in two.

Your place in America is in your place. There is no other place to be free.

That’s what explains the slave codes, the black codes, Jim Crow, Jim Crow-lite, segregation, and last month’s ratings for FOX News.

So it’s biting satire that Colin Kaepernick wore a Kunta Kinte t-shirt to depositions in his case against the NFL. He’s become a favored whipping boy for all of Caucasia, after all, and he’s still standing.

Nike’s campain slogan tells us to “Believe in something even if it costs you everything.” For a black man, that’s dangerous advice. Few will take it.

1983 during a 1983 Washington-Dallas game legendary sports announcer Howard Cosell referred to black player as a “little monkey.”

“That little monkey gets loose, doesn’t he?” Cosell said.

35 years later white America is still telling professional athletes to leave their melanin in the locker room (i.e. “shut up and dribble“). For most athletes that advice works. Massa’ needs to make an example of those who don’t.

No need to parse our words, let’s just admit that the reason white America is setting its Nike’s aflame and cutting the swoosh from their clothing is quite simple: in Kaepernick they’ve found a black man who refuses to be Toby and he won’t be a little monkey that runs.

They can’t handle that reality.


Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Post, a media project of the Results in Education Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here