In light of the backlash he has faced for refusing to stand during the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick has pledged $1 million to community organizations focusing on social justice, USA Today reported. The 49ers quarterback said that he would donate the first $1 million he makes this season to groups working to combat racial inequality and police brutality, which are among the issues he is protesting by sitting during the national anthem. Kaepernick also refuted critics' claims that he does not love his country after choosing to kneel while the national anthem played during the San Francisco 49ers' recent game against the San Diego Chargers.
The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men-and-women of the military and that’s not the case at all. I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee so I have the utmost respect for them.
According to The Atlantic, Kaepernick's ongoing refusal to stand for the national anthem reflects his attempts to shift the conversation back to racial injustice, rather than whether or not he loves his country. After the 49ers defeated the Chargers, Kaepernick told reporters he was protesting precisely because he does love America, and because he wants "to help make America better."
Kaepernick's pledge to donate $1 million to social justice causes will take his protest "a step further," he said during a news conference after the 49ers-Chargers game. "I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and be able to make the kind of money I do," he added. "I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed."
During the conference, Kaepernick also addressed the alleged "racist text messages that have been passed back-and-forth between PD members" of the San Francisco Police Department, ABC News reported. He said that his donation reflected his desire to actively be involved in the causes he has been protesting, and that he was open to having conversations with law enforcement officials.
Although Kaepernick's decisions have been met with significant amounts of criticism, he is not backing down; instead, he has made it clear he wants to "affect change." Kaepernick has not yet specified which groups will benefit from his donation, according to USA Today, but he is reportedly working with organizations in communities of need to determine precisely where his money will go.