Taking The Knee for Justice

Colin Kaepernick was honored with the Ambassador of Conscience Award by Amnesty International this weekend in recognition of his ongoing protests against police violence and racial injustice.

Former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award on Saturday in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

The award can be given to both individuals as well as organizations, and all are recognized for their contributions to the fight against injustice.

Reid has knelt beside Kaepernick and has pledged to carry on the protest in his absence, though he has said that he will take a different approach in the 2018 season.

Kaepernick recognized Reid’s commitment and expressed his disappointment in the NFL as an organization for their response to the protests:

“Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy. But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career.”

At the ceremony, Kaepernick once again criticized institutional violence committed by U.S. police forces against people of color.

“Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex.”

In his acceptance speech, Kaepernick also advocated for individual accountability and involvement in the social justice movement.

“It was James Baldwin who said, ‘To be black in America and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.’ My question is: Why aren’t all people? How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates freedom and justice for all, that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? How can you not be in a rage when you know that you are always at risk of death in the streets or enslavement in the prison system? How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialized injustice?”

Past recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

Kaepernick is still unsigned for the 2018 NFL season.

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