‘It’s Time To Speak Up’: Athlete-Activist Etan Thomas Writes An Open Letter To Colin Kaepernick

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Written by Ann Brown
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San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the National Anthem at one of his football games some three years ago and he is still a major topic of discussion on and off the gridiron. Now fellow athlete-activist Etan Thomas has written an open letter that ran in the Guardian to Kaepernick, urging the former NFL quarterback to “speak up.”

Some would say Kaepernick spoke volumes by kneeling and continuing to kneel during the anthem at subsequent gaes to project police brutality. Nonetheless, Thomas wrote to Kaepernick: “Your protest started a conversation and inspired an entire generation of athlete activists to find their voices, but the time for silence is over. We need to hear directly from you.”

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Thomas urged Kaepernick to give his side regarding the recent and controversial partnering of the NFL and Jay-Z, who in the past spoke out publicly in support of Kaepernick.

Thomas, who wrote the book “We Matter: Athletes And Activism” and who hosts “The Collision: Where Sports And Politics Collide” weekly radio show on WPFW FM 89.3 in Washington, D.C., called the Jay-Z deal “a marriage that’s felt like at best a mixed message and at worst a betrayal.”

Thomas quested why Kaepernick has yet to comment on the deal. 

Why haven’t we heard anything directly from Kaepernick?” he asked in the letter. “Why are we only hearing from people close to him, like his girlfriend Nessa or brother-in-arms Eric Reid, but never from him?”

Thomas continued: “You have an entire generation of people out here who want to back you. You mobilized an army of supporters who caused Nike’s share price not to plummet, as countless Fox News commentators gleefully predicted amid their breathless calls for boycotts, but reach an all-time high shortly after you became the face of a campaign for the 30th anniversary of the sneaker company’s ‘Just Do It’ motto in September.”

Addressing Jay-Z, Thomas wrote: “You have people ready to cancel the greatest rapper ever – at least top three – because they question his motivations in partnering with the NFL, regardless of all the positive he’s quietly done in the community, like raising money for the families of Sean Bell and Trayvon Martin, donating funds for activists in Ferguson and Baltimore and lobbying New York governor Andrew Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor in the Eric Garner murder case. Nobody is unclear about the NFL’s motivation in partnering with Jay-Z. Nobody is under the illusion that the league really cares about social justice. Everyone knows that as long as the owners can keep their players relatively silent – at least to the extent that won’t anger the aging, right-wing, Trump-supporting conservatives that comprise at least half their fan base – and keep their young urban demographic watching, the league could care less about black lives. And the only reason NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is even pretending to care is because of you.”

He concluded: “People all over America and around the world believe in your cause. They support you. And they need to hear directly from the man who inspired an entire generation of athletes to find their voice and use their platforms and follow in your footsteps…You’ve inspired millions, but now the people are ready for your voice.”

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez),