For someone who has done a decent amount of charity work during this offseason, NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick has been curiously good at negating whatever goodwill he establishes.
First, just a few short weeks ago, Kaepernick, 29, took a disgusting and misplaced shot at police officers, comparing them to the “runaway slave patrol.” It was inflammatory and ignorant, but it was also a direct response to the controversy surrounding the death of Philando Castile and the acquittal of the officer who shot him. Again, it was flat-out wrong, but at least it followed some semblance of reason and logic.
His latest stunt? A completely unprovoked and disgusting shot at the United States of America on Independence Day.
How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs? To find my independence I went home. pic.twitter.com/hniYGJeLxG
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 4, 2017
Kaepernick went “home” to the country of Ghana in Africa in order to trace his ancestral lineage. In a longer post on his Instagram account, Kaepernick explained that to find his “personal independence” he had to discover the origins of his ancestors. That search led him to Ghana.
“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?” – Frederick Douglass. In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself (and many other Black folks in the African Diaspora) for being forced into the hells of the middle passage. I wanted to see a fraction of what they saw before reaching the point of no return. I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial Park. I felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.
In a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with trying to find one’s ancestral lineage. In fact, it’s a fantastic way to learn more about oneself. America is an extremely diverse country with a fascinating array of individual origins. The complexity of the melting pot of America is part of the country’s charm.
So attacking America on its Independence Day seems all the more misplaced and baffling.
If Kaepernick would’ve just claimed that he’s searching for his “personal independence” by tracing his roots, no harm, no foul. But to accuse America of stealing the independence of (presumably) minorities and people of color is just inflammatory and ignores the fact that slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago.
Yes, there have been some dark and ugly periods in American history. Every country has them. If anything, the irony of ironies in Kaepernick’s social media posts is the state of society in Ghana itself.
LGBT people have virtually zero rights, and same-sex sexual activity among males is illegal in Ghana. Whatever you think of LGBT people, it’s indisputable that they have things better in America than in Ghana.
Women also have it a lot better in America than in Ghana. Did you know that Ghana is the home of “witch camps”? These are essentially internment camps for women accused of witchcraft. In reality, many human rights activists say they are a place to put widows who want some claim to their deceased husband’s possessions. The Ghanian government has taken steps to put an end to this practice, but places such as the Gambaga Witch Camp are an ugly stain on Ghana’s history.
So again, perhaps if Kaepernick did some cursory homework, he wouldn’t be claiming that his “personal independence” is more easily found in Ghana than the United States. Ghana is still light years behind the United States by just about any metric, including LGBT and women’s rights. Doesn’t Kaepernick believe those groups deserve the same amount of justice that he is so desperately seeking for others?
Taking a misinformed and idiotic stance on America is bad enough. But that’s sadly starting to become par for course for Kaepernick.
But to take a sickening cheap shot at America on the Fourth of July? That’s a new low.
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