Just when you thought Colin Kaepernick was getting enough heat for his refusal to stand during the national anthem, yet another ex-footballer has come forward to criticize his stance.
Former New England Patriots player Rodney Harrison went on the radio Tuesday morning and asserted that Kaepernick’s protest was questionable because “he’s not Black.”
“I tell you this, I’m a Black man. And Colin Kaepernick — he’s not Black,” Harrison said during an iHeartRadio interview. “He can not understand what I face and what other young Black men and Black people face, or people of color face, on a every single (day) basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up into a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you about to steal something.”
“You know, I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis,” he added.
Though adopted, Kaepernick was born to a white mother and African-American father, which makes him biracial. However, the star quarterback’s mixed raced heritage didn’t exempt him from race discrimination or teasing about his skin color as a child. In an interview with luxury menswear site Mr. Porter, Kaepernick explained that as he grew up, he became more “conscious of his posture” as a half-Black man in white society.
“We used to go on these summer driving vacations and stay at motels,” he recalled. “And every year, in the lobby of every motel, the same thing always happened, and it only got worse as I got older and taller. It didn’t matter how close I stood to my family, somebody would walk up to me, a real nervous manager, and say: ‘Excuse me. Is there something I can help you with?’ ”
To most people, Kaepernick is still considered a person of color. Still, Harrison claims the San Francisco 49er isn’t “Black enough” to understand the struggle.
“I’m not saying he has to be Black, but I’m saying, his heart is in the right place,” Harrison said. “But even with what he’s doing, he still doesn’t understand the injustices as a Black man, or people of color, that’s what I’m saying.”
Even amid backlash from fellow athletes, politicians and fans, among others, Kaepernick has vowed to continue protesting the flag “for a country that oppresses Black people.”
“To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” the quarterback told NFL.com. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Harrison suggested another way for Kaepernick to make change without “offending” millions of Americans.
“If he really wants to make change, maybe what he needs to do is maybe write a check out of that $11 million salary that he’s making and maybe donate it toward a cause or something like that for people that are fighting for injustices against people of color,” the NBC sports analyst explained. “That’s how you make change. And I’m not just saying writing a check, but just sitting against the national anthem, you’re offending a lot of people that sacrificed and died, man, basically for the freedoms that we have right now.”
Harrison has since backtracked on his claim that Kaepernick isn’t Black, asserting that he had no idea the NFL quarterback was biracial. Twitter users dragged the former New England Patriot for his incorrect statement and attempt to determine the level of another man’s Blackness.
I am looking forward to the new NBC show, @Rodney_Harrison Assesses Who Is And Who Is Not Black, Then Tries To Backtrack
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) August 30, 2016
Rodney Harrison thought Martin Luther King was Asian.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) August 30, 2016
.@Rodney_Harrison you're an embarrassment to black people claiming Colin Kapernick isn't black. Please don't speak for us anymore.
— Arty (@ArtybeingArty) August 30, 2016
Rodney Harrison's comments are the same divisive rhetoric that has pitted the Black community against itself since the House vs Field Negro.
— LeCharles Bentley (@64AMDG) August 30, 2016
— Robert Littal (@BSO) August 30, 2016