In his Oct. 29 Chronicle article, Scott Michaux imputes equivalence between Tommie Smith’s raised fist on the podium in the 1968 Olympic Games and Colin Kaepernick’s kneels during the NFL’s pre-game national anthem.
America was a racially segregated country in 1968. Racial violence was common during the mid-to-late ’60s. State troopers violently broke up a peaceful civil rights march in Selma, Ala., in 1965. The Watts neighborhood riot in Los Angeles occurred that summer. The Detroit race riots and 158 others across the country occurred during the summer of 1967.
The University of Alabama football team did not field a black player until 1971. Given the fact that 75 percent of the best football players are black, it is plainly evident that exclusion of black Americans from mainstream society was the cultural norm in 1968. Tommie Smith’s symbolic gesture on the Olympic podium certainly seems warranted.
Colin Kaepernick used the forum of his NFL employer to show disapproval of his country for perceived abstract social injustice issues. When asked about his failure to stand during the anthem he answered, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Mr. Kaepernick is undoubtedly sincere in his opinion about his country, but it does not conform to reality in 2017. Today black and white Americans work together each day in government, business and personal endeavors. The U.S. government aggressively enforces civil rights laws. It is absurd to equate this misguided protest to that of Tommie Smith in 1968.
Mr. Michaux deceptively states that Mr. Kaepernick is “in exile” from the NFL. Actually, he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers early this year and is unsigned by another team. His performance suffered in the three seasons following the 2013 Super Bowl year. Apparently no NFL team is interested.
North Augusta, SC