Colin Kaepernick put himself in the center of a media firestorm when he refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick’s protest followed in a long line of objections to the pro-slavery racism perceived to be inherent in Francis Scott Key‘s “The Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics. In a classic Catch-22, Kaepernick has been excoriated by many for failing to honor what the American flag stands for, all while exercising one of the chief rights the flag represents: freedom of speech. President Obama himself chimed in to say that Kaepernick was exercising his First Amendment privilege.
Kaepernick’s work for Beats showed his penchant for standing up for his beliefs:
This isn’t the first time Kaepernick has made a stand, although the earlier instance was more commercial — on the surface. In 2014 Kaepernick refused to take off his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones (which he endorses) for an NFL press conference, staying loyal to the Apple brand even though his employer — the NFL — had a marketing contract with rival Bose headphones. The conflict of interest, during which Kaepernick claimed the right to exhibit his own gear on his own head, cost the quarterback a $10,000 fine. The Apple loyalty may seem a protest of a different magnitude — defending his right to wear Beats for Apple being less serious than protesting the anthem. But financial independence is a crucial element in both protests.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) October 6, 2014