When I made small talk with Kaepernick in the locker room after last weekend’s preseason game in Denver, he was wearing a black baseball cap with a large, silver X in the middle — the exact hat that I wore during the early ‘90s after Spike Lee’s biopic on Malcolm X was released. Kaepernick sported the same hat during his postgame press conference Friday.
That, too, was an expression. And it’s cool. Kaepernick, adopted and raised by white parents, has been growing with his self-awareness, a person familiar with his thinking told USA TODAY Sports. That could be one reason why he’s willing to make a bold statement.
Kaepernick is 28. Malcolm X was 28 when he came out of prison with an evolving self-awareness. I’m twice that old but constantly working on self-awareness. And so is this nation, which Kaepernick shone a light on in his own way.
There’s nothing in NFL policy mandating that players must stand for the anthem, as much as you know the image-conscious, corporate-backed league stands on the principles of patriotism. The 49ers haven’t admonished Kaepernick, either, recognizing the American principles of self-expression while also pointing out liberties afforded U.S. citizens.