In one of our early classes, we discussed about speaking-up against injustice. This was following a video we watched in class. I have not met anyone would dispute that speaking-up against injustice was a wrong thing to do. But most people comment about the negative consequences and that it deters them from voicing their protest against what they believe to be an injustice.
In the class discussion, we acknowledged the form of speaking-up could be different for different people; those with privileges (various forms exist) would have less concerns of consequences. In general I do not disagree with that, except when I think of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
Kaepernick started protesting against social injustice directed at “black people and people of color” by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem in games. His action polarized fans and some (including himself) say led to his current unemployment. He filed “a grievance against the NFL, alleging that NFL owners colluded to keep him out of the league”1. Kaepernick received awards and honors for his activism against injustice. Amnesty International honored him as the Ambassador of Conscience in 2018 and he received the W.E.B Du Bois Medal in 2018.
However, he is still unemployed. If his unemployment is a result of his protesting and what it meant for the NFL as an industry, I wonder if perhaps even privilege can protect those who stand-up for what they believe in. In 2018, Nike came out with an ad: a close-up photo of Colin Kaepernick’s face, written across it the following words: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”.
Would you sacrifice everything to protest against an injustice?
As you stated, it’s difficult for people who don’t have a privilege such as international students who could be deported if things go against them. Yes, I’d speak up but carefully!
Regarding the unemployment of Kaepernick, yes it’s a serious issue, threating speaking up and thus we need initiatives from the leaders of industry to accommodate anyone loses his/her job due to his protest against social justice. Five months ago, A Kuwaiti beauty influencer was facing backlash following comments she made against workers’ rights. That was published on her social media accounts as a video. Immediately, companies which are having deals/ads with her, broke the agreements, forcing her to delete the video! This is the power of the leaders of the industry.
Kaepernick may be unemployed, but he is getting more recognition than he ever has. I did not know who he was before he took the knee. Only he knows if his heart is in the right place.