Code switching is a necessity for black folks to walk in, survive and thrive in Corporate America because Corporate America either looks down on black culture, or just simply ignores it. In Corporate America, the white American culture usually dominates the workspace, with cold turkey mayonnaise sandwiches, while running their cold AC in the middle of the winter, contemplating why the majority black people in the office still have their coats on. In Corporate America, you will hear people at the “water cooler” gleefully discuss their favorite Friends episode before you will witness in-depth nuanced dialogue about Martin and Pam momentarily putting their petty differences aside as they united to fight their common enemy, the Rat Puppy, at Chilligan’s Island.
We have to code switch to survive because nothing is free in this world, not even the air we breathe. But unlike most of us who walk into a job interview, hiding our tattoos and Apple Music playlist, Colin Kaepernick took a different route. Kaepernick is the potential hire who walks into the interview, rocking Kunta Kinte shirt and blackest afro that side of the Mississippi (he did this, literally), being fully cognizant of his self-worth. He walks into the interview WANTING the job but doesn’t NEED the job. He walks into the interview unapologetically black/blacker, as his potential employer stares at him in “audacity” while he asks what the salary range is for the position he is interviewing for and proceeds to counter that salary range by demanding a salary increase, without hesitation. However, this amount of self-worth is a foreign concept to most, hence why some have argued that Kaepernick seemingly corrupted his opportunity to play in the NFL again. As a veteran, tier one code switcher, I momentarily get how the power moves Kaepernick pulled this past Saturday afternoon may have confused some of us into thinking Kaepernick’s actions were nothing more than a publicity stunt. But to Kaepernick, it was about his self-worth, the same self-worth the NFL didn’t give a Trump fuck about for over three years while they actively kept Kaepernick out of the league because his self-worth revolved around his blackness.
According to multiple media sources, Self-Worth Kaepernick was alarmed from jump based on the short notice the NFL gave him and his camp about the workout occurring on a Saturday (Teams are preparing for Sunday/Monday games during this time), when NFL workouts ordinarily occur on a Tuesday, so the NFL teams who may be interested in the potential employer can send their top decision makers to scout the player. And because Kaepernick and his team had not spoken with the NFL since the collusion lawsuit was settled, scheduling something this important at the last minute AND on a Saturday rightfully did not sit well. And despite this clear power move by the NFL, Kaepernick decided to go ahead with the Saturday workout. The NFL also stated there would be no media access, which Kaepernick agreed to, however, it was unclear who his receivers who would be, you know, catching his passes would be. Uncomfortable by who he would be throwing to, Kaepernick decided to fly in his own receivers at his expense. As the workout approached, the NFL apparently suggested that Kaepernick’s team would be prohibited from filming the workout, with only the NFL being allowed to film the workout and send the film to the 32 teams. Kaepernick saw this as a red flag, with the NFL, the same league who blackballed him for three years, trying to essentially enforce a dictatorship over his entire workout. This workout dictatorship grew worse as the NFL requested that Kaepernick sign a waiver that he would not sue the NFL in the event no team signed him after the workout. Kaepernick rightfully countered with a standard injury form. By the time Saturday rolled around, the NFL told Kaepernick’s team that it would not budge on their demands surrounding the workout and Kaepernick’s team, I’m to assume, told them in email form to fuck off. This led to Self-Worth Kaepernick holding his tryout at Charles Drew High school, in Riverdale, Georgia.
Kaepernick has made it no secret that he wants to play in the NFL again. And most of us want to see him back in the NFL because we all know Kaepernick wants to be there, and he deserves to be there, but more importantly, we root for Kaepernick because he roots for us; he stands for us; he stands with us; he is us. With mediocre to below mediocre players currently occupying most of the quarterback positions, Kaepernick and his almost Super Bowl winning talents should be on someone’s roster. AND he would be on someone’s roster BUT FOR him speaking out against obvious wrongs. Speaking up for basic human rights and speaking out against systemic human/civil rights violations such as oppression and police brutality shouldn’t blackball you from a passion you love so much. Kaepernick SHOULD be able to follow his passions and beliefs without one or the other being stripped away from him, but his passion was stripped away, and because of that, I will stand with Kaepernick, more specifically Self-Worth Kaepernick, because Self-Worth Kaepernick is more important than any touchdown Quarterback Kaepernick has ever scored or will ever score.
Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance.
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