Time Cover image of Kaepernick taking a knee

Take a Knee

By Chayce Mindra
How should we make sense of the tensions between Colin Kaepernick’s impassioned critique of racializing violence and its uptake in the public sphere?  This audio essay takes Kaerpernick seriously as a philosopher and political theorist, exploring his protest in the broader context of commercialized sports and mass media.  Reflecting on the existentialist import of this project, Chayce explains:

“When looking back at the original interview with Kaepernick following his first recorded protest, I was drawn into the words that he kept using around being able to ‘look himself in the mirror.'”

This motif of “looking one’s self in the mirror” resonates closely with Hannah Arendt’s account of moral reckoning, which hinges upon one pressing question:  “whether I shall be able to live with myself in peace when the time has come to think about my deeds and words.”    If the answer is no, then Arendt raises the strong possibility that, existentially and pragmatically, such a person is a sleepwalker; if the answer is yes, then this person holds real potential for acting upon their own conscience, even if it is at odds with the moral presumptions of their own community.

Resources and references

John Branch, “The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick,” The New York Times Sept 7, 2017

Full interview with Colin Kaepernick (Aug 29, 2016)

Donald Trump, “Fire NFL players who kneel during the national anthem” (video)  Sept 23, 2017

ESPN.com news services:  “NFL owners called for depositions, cellphone records in Colin Kaepernick collusion case.”

“Colin Kaepernick will not be silenced,” GQ editors, Nov 13, 2017

Chris Chavez, “Here’s how you can watch Colin Kaepernick’s Full Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Speech,” Dec 6, 2017

Suggested resources for further inquiry:

Hannah Arendt’s essay, “The Two in One” from The Life of the Mind Vol. 1, available in excerpted form in The Portable Hannah Arendt, edited by Peter Baehr (Penguin Books 2000, 408-418).

As the creator of this audio project, Chayce writes, “I hope that individuals that listen to my podcast episode have thought provoked, in them, on whether they are a ‘sleepwalker’ regarding their own consciousness, or if they are willing to wake up and make changes if it is something they believe in.”

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