A conversation about free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick not voting was reignited Tuesday between Charlamagne Tha God and Stephen A. Smith.
While Charlamagne promoted his new book, “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It,” “First Take” panelist Molly Qerim pointed out his shirt featuring the former San Francisco 49ers player.
Charlamagne designated Smith as “The Breakfast Club” radio show’s “Donkey of the Day” in November after Smith criticized Kaepernick for not voting in the 2016 presidential election.
“I feel like Colin Kaepernick should not be getting punished for doing the right thing,” Charlamagne says, referring to Kaepernick’s ongoing free agency after he opted out of his 49ers contract in March. “I mean, Colin Kaepernick decided to take a stand by not standing [for the national anthem] and he took a stand [for] people that are being marginalized and oppressed in this country and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I think he should be saluted and commended for that, actually.”
Smith said he didn’t disagree with Charlamagne’s statements.
“Where did the problem lie in terms of what I had to say about Colin Kaepernick?” Smith asks.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Charlamagne says. “But, I think you said that his words didn’t mean anything because he said he didn’t vote.”
“All I was trying to say was that the No. 1 instrument, the No. 1 tool that we have in our nation today to provoke change is the power to vote,” Smith said.
He described the sacrifices others have made to allow Black people to get the right to vote and said his true problem with Kaepernick was the athlete publicizing that he chose not to vote “as if to encourage others not to do so, as well.
“I thought that was counter-productive and counter to everything that he said he was trying to accomplish,” Smith says.
After the two debated further, with Max Kellerman chiming in, Smith asked Charlamagne his thoughts on Kaepernick “conveniently” ending his NFL protest before seeking a new contract.
“Maybe he felt like he got his message out already,” Charlamagne says. “I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t like us pointing the finger like, ‘Oh, maybe he’s just doing that because no teams are checking for him now, so now he wants to stand so he never believed what he believed in the first place.’ ”
Smith explained it wasn’t unreasonable to question where Kaepernick’s loyalties are when, according to Smith, his protest contradicted his decision not to vote.
The conversation wrapped with Smith, who took offense to Charlamagne questioning if Smith asked Kaepernick to explain his choice on “First Take,” telling Charlamange he appreciated the radio hosts’ book and his work.