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Over the past few years, we have seen a number of Black athletes–both men and women–speak out about the police violence in African-American communities. We can now add San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to that growing list.

On Friday during a pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers, the 28-year old refused to stand during the national anthem. When asked why, Kaepernick said that it was a protest to the wrongdoings against Blacks and people of color in the United States.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “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.

This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick added. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Kaepernick has come under heavy criticism, but team officials said it’s his choice, so he does not face a reprimand, NFL.com noted.

The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem,” the San Francisco 49ers said in a statement. 

According to USA Today, the NFL also weighed in on the issue saying, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

And Kaepernick has won wide support on social media for refusing to be an athlete who just shuts up and plays.

Folks also called out the hypocrisy about his so-called “patriotic outrage:”

What do you think about Kaepernick’s stance? Sound off in comments.

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