“Bodies in the Street: Racism, Nationalism, and Colin Kaepernick’s Refusal to Stand" talk by Abraham Khan
Abraham Khan, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Communications, Arts, and Sciences
In the days and weeks following San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the pre-game national anthem, critical responses clustered into three general arguments: (1) That his experiences and personal history do not include a sufficient amount of oppression to authenticate his political speech, (2) That Kaepernick’s “mixed” racial heritage is not “black enough” to speak for people of color, and (3) That his gesture is disrespectful to the nation, the flag, and the American military. In addressing these three positions, this essay argues that Kaepernick sits within a rich tradition of black athletic protest, and that attempts to disqualify his speech are symptomatic of the broader strategies through which productive discourse regarding systemic racial violence is thwarted.
Abraham Khan (PhD, Minnesota) is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State. His scholarship considers the relationship between African American rhetoric and the history of sport in the United States. Khan is the author of Curt Flood in the Media: Baseball, Race, and the Demise of the Activist-Athlete (UP Mississippi, 2012), and has published essays on black athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Richard Sherman, and Michael Sam.