Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Cancellation Of Colin Kaepernick

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
In a New York Times op-ed, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates discussed cancel culture and called out the NFL’s hypocrisy in cancelling Colin Kaepernick. In this photo, the free agent quarterback participates in a workout for NFL football scouts and media, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Riverdale, Ga. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Cancel culture is nothing new, according to award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. In an op-ed published last week in the New York Times, Coates pointed out references to individuals who’d been cancelled as early as the 1800s. Then he analyzed why so many people have been speaking out lately against the way it’s being done today. He spent much of his opinion calling out the NFL’s hypocrisy in cancelling Colin Kaepernick.

After naming people like “Sarah Good, Elijah Lovejoy, Ida B. Wells, Dalton Trumbo, Paul Robeson and the Dixie Chicks,” Coates examined Kaepernick’s case. He wrote:

“The N.F.L. is revered in this country as a paragon of patriotism and chivalry, a sacred trust controlled by some of the wealthiest men and women in America. For the past three years, this sacred trust has executed, with brutal efficiency, the cancellation of Colin Kaepernick. This is curious given the N.F.L.’s moral libertinism; the league has, at various points, been a home for domestic abuserschild abusers and open racists. And yet it seems Mr. Kaepernick’s sin — refusing to stand for the national anthem — offends the N.F.L.’s suddenly delicate sensibilities.”  

Coates’ article comes after the NFL invited Kaepernick for a “private workout” and the former QB changed its location at the last minute due to what he said were transparency issues.

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It is a move Coates labeled a “distraction” by the NFL. It’s one of several which include the NFL’s partnership with Jay-Z and accusations that Kaepernick wasn’t good enough to play. All of these distractions sparked major debates that veered away from the real issue, Coates explained.

“The debate helped obscure this central fact — a multibillion-dollar monopoly is, at this very hour, denying a worker the right to ply his trade and lying about doing so,” Coates wrote.

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Since ESPN reported no teams have reached out to Kaepernick since his workout last week, Coates ended his article with a reminder. He asked the public not forget that Kaepernick’s fight is bigger than football or getting a check. It’s about pushing America – and its power structure – to actually live up to its pledge to provide “liberty and justice for all.”

“This isn’t a fight for employment at any cost. It is a fight for a world where we are not shot, or shunned, because the masters of capital, or their agents, do not like our comportment, our attire or what we have to say,” Coates concluded.