Until now, they had chosen silence over public support. However, Colin Kaepernick’s parents have broken their silence, saying their son has taken on an “immense load,” in standing for what he believes in, and they feel “very proud” about the stand he has taken.
In a statement to ESPN’s culture site, The Undefeated, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick wrote, “Colin is carrying a heavy load and following a difficult path that he truly believes in. He is putting his entire future and possibly his life on the line for those beliefs. As his parents, it pains us to read articles and tweets saying that his family does not support him; this could not be further from the truth. We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others.”
A USA Today piece in September cast doubt on the Kaepernick’s support for their adopted son. The report noted that the Kaepernicks flew an American flag outside their home to protest against their son’s protest. However, when asked about it, the Kaepernicks chose not to address the issue publicly. Teresa Kaepernick said, “It’s not in our best interest or Colin’s best interest” to comment.
Why is it in their interest to speak out now, other than to combat the narrative that they don’t support him? At least in part, it appears that Admiral Harry Harris’ Pearl Harbor Day shot at Kaepernick –in which he pointed out that Veterans would never fail to stand when they heard the national anthem– had something to do with it.
The Kaepernicks wrote, “Colin has chosen to kneel for the national anthem as a protest to the continuing racial inequality in this country. He has explained his reasons for this in multiple interviews, yet it seems some people still do not understand his point. For whatever reason, there are some who want to view this as an anti-military protest or an un-American stance. These views could not be further from the truth, but we know that people will believe what they wish to believe. The recent remarks (attacks) by Admiral Harris supported by the Pentagon are over the top, and we feel the desire to make a public statement in support of our son.
“Our military takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and many have fought and died to defend our constitutional rights. Indeed after such sacrifice it is a reasonable expectation that all of our citizens enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The family’s statement concluded, “When Colin first ‘took a knee’, his family was as surprised as anyone. We did not understand why he was doing this and were overwhelmed with the public reaction and hate. Colin not only received terrible racist tweets, but also received letters directly to our home similar to that recently received by [Denver Broncos linebacker] Brandon Marshall. We were truly shocked at the amount of racist hatred out there! Until this had occurred, we had naively believed that the racial atmosphere in this country was far better than it actually is.
“Prayer and talks with our son gave us a much better understanding of the reason for his protest and how we should view it. I just want to be on the record that we absolutely do support him.”
This statement stands in stark contrast to the statement made by Kaepernick’s birth mother, Heidi Russo, in the days immediately following his anthem protests. Russo said on Twitter, “There’s ways to make change w/o disrespecting and bringing shame to the very country and family who afforded you so many blessings.”
Kaepernick and the 49ers take on the Jets on Sunday. The 49ers are still searching for their first win since Kaepernick became the quarterback.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn