It seems as though Colin Kaepernick constantly is re-explaining himself to the media, and that was the case once again Sunday in Miami.
The background for this story starts way back in August, when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback wore a shirt depicting Malcolm X meeting Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90, in Harlem in 1960. Understandably, people in South Florida, where there’s a huge Cuban and Cuban-American population, weren’t happy about Kaepernick’s choice of clothing, and the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero confronted Kaepernick when the Niners came to Miami to take on the Dolphins.
Kaepernick explained his T-shirt supported Malcolm X and not Castro, going on to say the shirt represented the activist’s willingness to listen to others’ viewpoints. Salguero asked if it was “good to have an open mind about Fidel Castro and his oppression,” so Kaepernick clarified that wasn’t what he was saying.
“I’m not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression,” Kaepernick said. “I’m talking about Malcolm X and what he’s done for people.
“One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here, even though we’re fully capable of doing that.”
Salguero continued to press Kaepernick, saying Castro “did something that we do not do here” by breaking up families. Kaepernick reminded Salguero, though, that the United States’ history isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“We do break up families here,” Kaepernick said. “That’s what mass incarceration is. That was the foundation of slavery. So, our country has been based on that as well as the genocide of Native Americans.”
Salguero wrote a scathing column about Kaepernick on Friday, hours before Castro’s death, suggesting Kaepernick supported Castro’s regime. So, after the Niners’ 31-24 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, Kaepernick explained he was praising Cuba’s education and healthcare system and that “trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things he did is just not true.”
The quarterback sympathized with the anger South Floridians felt, though.
“I can understand the concern,” Kaepernick said, per SFGate.com. “But, for me, what I said was that was a historic moment for Malcolm. I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life. In 1960, when they met in Harlem, that was a historic moment. And that’s something where I will always be true to what Malcolm was, what he represented. I’m not going to cut out history.”
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images