Colin Kaepernick upon Receiving Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award:

“Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation”

May 7, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On Saturday, April 21, Amnesty International awarded Colin Kaepernick its most prestigious award—the Ambassador of Conscience Award, given to those “dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others”—for his protest against police murders by refusing to stand for the national anthem during the NFL games.

Kaepernick has been blackballed from the NFL because of his courageous anthem protest. At the Amnesty International event, Kaepernick was handed the award by his former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid, who continued the protest last season. Reid is currently an unsigned free agent, and it appears that he, too, is being shut out of the NFL because of his stand.

In his acceptance speech, Kaepernick said in part:

My love for my people serves as the fuel that motivates me and fortifies me on my mission. It is the people’s unbroken love for themselves that motivates me even when faced with dehumanizing norms of a system that can lead to the loss of one’s life over simply being Black. History has proven that there has never been a period in the history of America where anti-blackness has not ever been an ever-present terror.

Racialized oppression and dehumanization are woven into the very fabric of our nation—the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynchings of Black and Brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of Black and Brown lives in the prison industrial complex.

While America bills itself as the “land of the free,” the receipts show that the U.S. has incarcerated 2.2 million people, the largest prison population in the history of humankind. As police officers continue to terrorize Black and Brown communities, abusing their power, and then hiding behind their blue wall of silence, the laws that allow them to kill us with virtual impunity, I’ve realized that our love that sometimes manifests itself as Black rage is a beautiful form of defiance against the system that seeks to suppress our humanity—a system that wants us to hate ourselves. But I remind you, it is love that is at the root of our resistance. It is our love for 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was gunned down by the police in less than 2 seconds, that will not allow us to bury our anger. It is our love for Philando Castile, who was executed in front of his partner and his daughter, that keep us fighting back. It is our love for Stephon Clark, who was lynched in his grandma’s backyard, that will not allow us to stop until we liberate our people…

How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates “freedom and justice for all,” that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? How can you not be in a rage when you know that you’re always at risk of death in the streets or enslavement in the prison system? How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialized injustice? When Malcolm X said, “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it's for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole,” I took that to heart…

In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force…




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