You don’t have to watch football to recognize the name Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers quarterback made headlines after refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of the nation’s mistreatment of African Americans and people of color, an issue he says is “bigger than football.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Kaepernick quashed Internet rumors that he converted to Islam at the behest of his Muslim girlfriend.
“I have great respect for the religion, know a lot of people that are Muslim and are phenomenal people,’’ Kaepernick told reporters. “But I think that (rumor) comes along with people’s fear of this protest, as well as Islamophobia in this country. People are terrified of them to the point where Trump wants to ban all Muslims from coming here, which is ridiculous.”
An unnamed source alleged that Kaepernick and Hot 97 radio host Nessa Diab, or Nessa, would be married in “an Islamic style wedding.” The rumors also accused Diab of being the puppet master behind Kaepernick’s decision to protest, going so far as to claim that Nessa, who has spoken out in support of Black Lives Matter, “has been beating that into his head the entire off season.”
Kaepernick responded to those claims at the press conference.
“The impact is just conversations that we constantly have,’’ he said. “This is an open discussion that I have with many people, not just my woman. She is Muslim, her family is Muslim, I have great respect for them. I have great respect for people’s right to believe what they want to believe. And I don’t think anybody should be prosecuted for judged based on what their beliefs all.’’
“This is an open discussion that I have with many people, not just my woman. She is Muslim, her family is Muslim, I have great respect for them. I have great respect for people’s right to believe what they want to believe. And I don’t think anybody should be prosecuted for judged based on what their beliefs all.’’
Like a Youtube comments section with legs, the rumor is nothing more than the racist blustering of online gossipmongers. And while it is hard to ignore the inane and puerile nature of the rumors, it’s even harder to ignore the Islamophobic connotations they carry.
Kaepernick’s protest, which has all the jingoists rallying for his head, is about confronting the very real problems plaguing the U.S., so naturally there must be a Muslim connection (#creepingsharia and such).
However, Kaepernick’s courageous stance on the rampant racial persecution of African Americans and people of color and the violent swell of Islamophobia in America — no doubt, goaded by a certain orange-hued presidential candidate — is an inspiriting reminder that we must always stand up to injustice, regardless of the consequences.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”