Colin Kaepernick, wearing Malcolm X and Fidel Castro t-shirt.
“Kaepernick’s action was a righteous protest against of the epidemic of racism and police brutality in this country,” said Gloria La Riva. “As a socialist and proud, long-time resident of San Francisco, I salute the stand taken by SF 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the National Anthem at Friday night's game.
La Riva spoke from her San Francisco office in California where she is running for U.S. President as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. Out of the five candidates on the California ballot, she is the only worker, only person of color and only socialist. She is also on the ballot in other states across the country.
Kaepernick had explained his actions saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color….To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
“I live in San Francisco, and everywhere you go you see exactly what Kaepernick is protesting,” continued La Riva. “SF police, and police around the country, systematically profile Black and Latino people, routinely brutalize working class people and in many cases kill innocent people of color.
“Kaepernick is acting in the great tradition of athletes like boxer Muhammad Ali, who resisted the draft during the Vietnam war, and Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who used their prominence as athletes to take a public stand against racism and for Black liberation, along with Australian silver medalist Peter Norman who stood in solidarity with them on the winner’s stand.
“These athletes were willing to pay the price, whether it meant being vilified in the media and drummed out of the sport, as were Carlos, Smith and Norman, or stripped of a title and sent to prison, as was Ali.”
La Riva quoted Ali who said: “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America,” he said at the time. “And shoot them for what? They never called me n----, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”
La Riva continued, “Carlos and Smith had no regrets, despite the impact of racist reaction on their personal lives.” She quoted Carlos who said: "I went up there as a dignified Black man and said: ‘What's going on is wrong’” and Smith who said their action "was a cry for freedom and for human rights. We had to be seen because we couldn't be heard."
La Riva concluded: “Since its formation, the U.S. capitalist class has consciously created a complex system of white supremacy to prevent working class unity and rebellion by all oppressed and exploited sectors of society. Over and above the genocide carried out against Native peoples, the enslavement of African peoples and its racist ideological justifications have been central to both extracting super-profits from oppressed people within the United States as well as preventing the entire working class from acting in its own interests. We see the fight against racism and for Black liberation as central to the struggle for the liberation of all workers and the building of a socialist society.”