Colin Kaepernick is raising eyebrows yet again. The politically embattled San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been taking as much flak for his off-field politics as he has for his on-field losses.
Sports Illustrated is reporting that after Sunday’s 24-31 loss to the Miami Dolphins, which came just two days after the passing of former Cuban revolution leader and dictator Fidel Castro, Kaepernick was questioned about an exchange Friday night between him and a reporter regarding Castro.
In the Friday-night exchange, Kaepernick was asked about a Fidel Castro and Malcolm X T-shirt he wore in August, Sports Illustrated stated in a separate article.
— CNN (@CNN) November 28, 2016
“I’m not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression,” Kaepernick told the unnamed reporter. “I’m talking about Malcolm X and what he’s done for people.”
When the reporter pushed Kaepernick on the issue and suggested he seemed uncomfortable speaking about it, the quarterback gave a fuller response.
“One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system,” Kaepernick replied. “Which we do not do here, even though we’re fully capable of doing that.”
Kaepernick then elaborated on his views on the Native American genocide, slavery, and mass incarceration in America.
“We do break up families here. That’s what mass incarceration is. That was the foundation of slavery. So our country has been based on that as well as the genocide of Native Americans.”
Kaepernick has been a center of controversy in the conservative-leaning NFL since an August 26 game against the Green Bay Packers when he refused to stand for the national anthem. He was protesting the anthem to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter activists in the wake of several police shootings of African-Americans. In many of those shootings, the victims were unarmed.
Several other NFL players soon joined Kaepernick in the protest.
The silent protests outraged many NFL players, coaches, fans, and commentators.
“If you want to make a point or take a stand, go straight after the root of that cause,” Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said in an Instagram post. “Don’t disrespect the whole country or the organization that’s paying you millions of dollars.”
Colin Kaepernick is 5th player since the 1970 merger with 100 rush yds and 3 TD passes in a game. Others: Newton, Mariota, Vick & Cunningham pic.twitter.com/gPPt6G855r
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 27, 2016
In October, the Inquisitr reported on T-shirts being sold outside of New Era Field (formerly Ralph Wilson Stadium) during a 49ers vs. Buffalo Bills game that depicted Kaepernick’s likeness locked in the crosshairs of a rifle.
Others, however, have defended Kaepernick’s right to nonviolent, silent protest.
NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown told Reuters he supported Kaepernick.
“I think Pandora’s box is open,” Brown said on NFL Total Access, according to Reuters. “I’m very happy that it is.”
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also offered Kaepernick his full support in a Washington Post editorial titled “Insulting Colin Kaepernick says more about our patriotism than his.”
Kaepernick might have a tougher time finding allies on the Castro front.
During Sunday’s exchange, Kaepernick made clear that while he supports certain policies that Castro enacted, he still recognizes that their was a dark side to the dictator as well.
“What I said was I agree in the investment in education. I also agree in the investment of free universal healthcare,” Kaepernick told reporters. “Trying to push the narrative that I was supportive of the oppressive things he did is not true.”
Kaepernick is not the only public figure facing criticism for comments regarding Castro. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under fire Saturday for his official statement on the death of the Cuban leader.
Trudeau called Castro a “remarkable leader” and offered other praise for the late communist. Conservative Canadians were not pleased.
It’s unlikely that what Colin Kaepernick said about Castro will have much of an effect on the public perception of him. Anyone who knows who he is has an understanding of his politics at this point. Those who like him, like him. Those who don’t, don’t.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]