Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who started the trend of athletes kneeling for the national anthem, is the subject of a new fundraising email the Republican National Committee sent to donors, Yahoo News reports. In the email, it reportedly appears as if Kaepernick’s skin was artificially darkened.
Kaepernick, who in 2016 famously “took a knee” during the national anthem to protest police brutality and has since been out of a job in the NFL after entering free agency in 2017, had been out of the news for a while. Until last week, that is. As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, Nike had introduced a new shoe that featured the so-called “Betsy Ross Flag,” one of the earlier iterations of the American flag, on the back. Kaepernick, who has a business relationship with Nike, claimed that the flag had racist and slavery-related connotations, and asked Nike to pull the shoe, which they did.
Now, since that time, Kaepernick has been a lightning rod for criticism. On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee seized on that notoriety to appeal to donors in a mass email. In the email, Kaepernick appears next to Donald Trump.
“WHO DO YOU STAND WITH? DONALD TRUMP AND THE BETSY ROSS FLAG OR ANTI-AMERICAN FLAG COLIN KAEPERNICK?”
However, some Democrats noticed what they say is a problem in the email: Kaepernick’s skin appears to have been artificially darkened.
One Democratic operative, whose name was not revealed, accused the Republicans of using racism to appeal to donors.
“House Republicans are running on racism, plain and simple. It’s disgusting, it’s offensive and it should be fireable, but there’s no accountability in the Republican Party,” he or she said.
This is not the first time that a person’s skin has been artificially darkened in the context of political activities. For example, as The Washington Post reported at the time, back in 2015, John McCain’s campaign committee appeared to have artificially darkened Barack Obama’s skin in a series of anti-Obama campaign ads. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was similarly accused of the same thing.
According to a 2012 study in Political Behavior, prejudice is stronger against African Americans with darker skin, and indeed, some voters respond negatively to attack ads featuring darker-skinned African Americans.
National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Chris Pack said in a statement that the photo was not altered.
“The photo was not darkened,” he said.
As of this writing, neither Colin Kaepernick nor anyone in his management team has responded to requests for comment.