Jabari Parker, known around the NBA for his ferocious dunks, lanky figure, and steadily improving game, is the latest athlete to speak about Colin Kaepernick's recent protest of the US national anthem.
Jabari posted a picture on Instagram in which he was wearing a black Kaepernick jersey and in the caption said he supported Colin in his political stand. This should not surprise anyone who watches what Parker says on social media. He has voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement, has made it clear that he leans democrat on social issues, and more recently has talked about the violence of where he grew up in Chicago.
Instead of overreacting, I am choosing to look at this from a neutral standpoint, which is something most media outlets fail to do. There have been a few different reactions to the recent protests, so let's go over them.
The first reaction is one of anger, which is very understandable. As we approach the anniversary of the horrible terror attacks of 9/11, the national anthem protests will certainly be talked about, and a very vocal opposition will point out that these athletes do not stand with America in the face of tragedy. The players have been labeled some terms I can't repeat on here, and while I don't think Bucks fans will be quick to jump on this bandwagon, outsiders to the life of a Bucks fan for sure will.
Another reaction is a supportive one. Jabari Parker's response to Colin Kaepernick is this type, and he isn't the only one to be supportive. In the past week, Colin's jersey sales have skyrocketed, and the same may happen to Jabari if he decides to sit during the anthem. He will for sure be heavily supported in the city of Milwaukee. It is a liberal, predominantly black city that recently went through riots due to a police shooting there. In the most segregated city in America, there will be areas of huge support.
The final major reaction is disagreement with the action, but recognizing it is someone's right to not stand for the anthem. This is the reactionary group I'm in. I personally believe in having a reasonable amount of pride in one's country, since they live there, work there, have friends and family there, etc. On the other hand, I do recognize that the Constitution gives us the right of free speech. Soldiers in almost every war America was involved in fought and died to defend that right. I have major doubts that players like Kaepernick and even Jabari don't like America. They just want to see the nation change and stop the violence happening in our streets, which I think every single citizen agrees on. The players are using their status to promote the discussion of officer-involved shootings, which no matter your view on it, is a problem in this country.
Standing for the Star Spangle Banner does not make you a patriot. Supporting your country in the way you think is best for it does make you one. Kaepernick has donated his share of his jersey sales back into the community. Jabari Parker wrote on The Player's Tribune about the violence in the South Side of Chicago, bringing more attention to it to hopefully change the situation for the better. Do these seem like anti-American actions? While standing is widely considered more respectful and patriotic, working in the communities and helping make the country less violent is also incredibly patriotic, and those actions should be respected.
The great thing about the United States is that both standing and sitting, two very basic activities, can be done during our national anthem. They didn't put "land of the free" in that very anthem for nothing.