Learn­ing from Kaeper­nick

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/photographer with The Com­pass news­pa­per in Car­bon­ear. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Bay Roberts is a long ways from Levi’s Sta­dium in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia.

In fact, there’s over 7,000 kilo­me­tres separat­ing the two ac­cord­ing to Google Maps.

Like­wise, the is­sues San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick kneels for couldn’t be any fur­ther from the ones we ex­pe­ri­ence in our lit­tle slice of Canada.

Here, the is­sues are a lit­tle blander than what our main­land cousins have to deal with. Po­lice bru­tal­ity isn’t a term we hear around the bay, ever.

Let’s hope it never gets that point.

Very slim parts of our day are spent deal­ing with race and the cir­cum­stances that sur­round it, if at all.

Like­wise our sports and their to politics are just as bland. We lament over our kids not get­ting picked for a team and de­bate how one of the coach’s son’s friends made the cut.

Maybe we com­plain about the pro­ce­dure with how a coach is se­lected and the be­hind closed door deal­ing that went into it.

Ei­ther way, it’s a noth­ing ar­gu­ment in the grand scheme of things es­pe­cially when you look at the is­sues Kaeper­nick is try­ing to com­bat.

Over the past year, there have been count­less head­lines in­volv­ing black men killed by po­lice.

Since Au­gust, the quar­ter­back has be­come the face of the move­ment against that.

There’s an ap­par­ent epi­demic in the United States and it doesn’t seem to be get­ting any bet­ter

Kaeper­nick’s ob­nox­ious crit­ics are qui­et­ing, but it’s not go­ing away. Oth­ers are join­ing him now.

They’re also black ath­letes who have made a lot of money, but that doesn’t mat­ter. What mat­ters is how they’re us­ing their plat­form.

Soon, the NBA sea­son will get un­der­way and for sure, oth­ers will join him in some form of peace­ful protest.

Kaeper­nick is go­ing to con­tinue to kneel. It’s his right and we should sup­port him for it.

Some might ar­gue, we’re lucky here. We’re pre­dom­i­nantly Cau­casian, speak English and is­sues of race aren’t as preva­lent.

We pride our­selves on be­ing wel­com­ing peo­ple. There’s no one bet­ter than a New­found­lan­der, they’ll say.

But as New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans, we aren’t guilt-free when it comes to race and our mis­treat­ment of other cul­tures.

The neg­a­tive re­sults of res­i­den­tial schools and treat­ment of the Beothuk peo­ple will at­test to that. There’s blood on our hands too.

What Kaeper­nick is of­fer­ing us is a chance to bring race to the fore­front of the con­ver­sa­tion.

He should top the list of so- cial is­sue top­ics in classes from Car­bon­ear to Pla­cen­tia.

In a time when most big-time ath­letes are wor­ried about their brand first. This protest is an ath­lete putting some­thing else first.

The is­sues are big­ger than him. They’re big­ger than us.

Race is an is­sue we grap­ple with every day. We might not know it, but we do.

Even as far away as Con­cep­tion Bay North, it’s there.

Speak to your kids about what Kaeper­nick is do­ing and the is­sues that sur­round it.

Don’t be afraid of the con­ver­sa­tion.

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