Six years ago, a Black football player decided he wasn’t going to stand during the national anthem because America wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain when it came to protecting the people he cared about. The country lost it, and he lost his job. Six years later, a white baseball manager has decided he’s not going to stand during the anthem because America isn’t holding up its end of the bargain when it comes to protecting the people he cares about. The country hardly took issue with his decision, and he’s still employed.
This is some bullsh*t.
Last week, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler announced that due to the school shooting massacre in Uvalde, Texas, he was staying in the locker room during the anthem until he “felt better about the direction of our country.” On Memorial Day, Kapler put his protest on hold to honor the fallen soldiers.
“Today, I’ll be standing for the anthem,” Kapler wrote on his blog. “While I believe strongly in the right to protest and the importance of doing so, I also believe strongly in honoring and mourning our country’s servicemen and women who fought and died for that right.
“Those who serve in our military, and especially those who have paid the ultimate price for our rights and freedoms, deserve that acknowledgment and respect, and I am honored to stand on the line today to show mine.”
This is where the bullsh*t comes into play — and it’s a three-part story.
One, standing during the national anthem on Memorial Day isn’t the only way to honor the men and women for whom the holiday was created to remember. In fact, it was an ex-Green Beret that inspired Kaepernick to kneel instead of sit during the anthem. Despite what some white people might think, there’s more than one way to protest. And it doesn’t have to be accepted by the white gaze to be deemed appropriate.
Two, it should not go unnoticed that Kapler manages the baseball team in the same city that Kaepernick used to play football in when he was with the 49ers. Fellow skipper Tony La Russa thinks Kapler’s protest isn’t appropriate, which means that he’s angered more by decorum being interfered with than senseless deaths. San Francisco-area head coach Steve Kerr is supporting Kapler, much like most of white America.
Third, Kapler made his decisions after Uvalde, not Buffalo.
White America’s ability to pick and choose what protests or charitable causes they deem suitable are what’s so frustrating about this. And that’s not to say that Kapler is a bad guy with bad intentions. But, it’s also impossible to argue that his stance isn’t a flimsy one given all that it’s taken for him to get to a point where he’s been so moved by tragedies in America that he’s chosen to stay in the locker room during a song where he’s conveniently out of sight and mind from fans that might want to voice their displeasure.
Kapler has been involved with professional baseball in some form or fashion since 1998. That means he’s played, coached, worked in a front office, and been on TV through Columbine, Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, Dylann Roof, Charlottesville, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, and Buffalo, just to name a few. But now, after all of that, he feels a certain way about “the direction of our country.”
How convenient it must be to live with the privilege of it finally taking until 2022 to be concerned with how things are going in America. Because if you hadn’t realized, gun violence — or the threat of it — was involved in all of the examples I listed. Which means that if this was truly about gun control for Kapler, what was it about Uvalde that struck him in such a way? Because it’s not like this country hasn’t been fine with children being massacred while at school for over a decade now.
Two years ago, Kapler took part in the performative wokeness that Major League Baseball was doing in the wake of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Kapler publicly supported and kneeled with players on his team that wanted to take a knee, even though his entire roster only featured one African-American at the time, Jaylin Davis.
A few weeks later, Kapler, Major League Baseball, and the rest of the sports world stop kneeling. I guess Black people getting killed by police was just a fleeting emotion to them. But yet, here we go again, two years later, and Kapler is back at it without any threat of being blackballed. We don’t have to wonder if he’ll ever manage again, as he’s not dealing with anywhere near the blowback that Kaepernick still faces until this day.
This is the definition of bullsh*t.
If we’re not careful, future generations could look back and incorrectly view Gabe Kapler as some sort of “freedom fighter” that helped change gun laws all because he chose to stay in the clubhouse during a song. And it’s not like something like this hasn’t happened before. Ask Claudette Colvin who should have been the real face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the Civil Rights Movement, because if we’re basing this off facts it should have been her, not Rosa Parks. However, it was understood at the time that white, and Black, America would find it easier to accept an older woman (Parks) being tired and refusing to give up her seat as a call to action rather than some 15-year-old unmarried girl that was pregnant. Parks checked the boxes. Colvin did not.