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Brooks: Kap’s sock choice distracts from important message

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Socks. A pair of socks with pigs wearing police hats. Socks Colin Kaepernick decided to wear during training camp before his individual protest of police treatment of minorities became public knowledge. Socks that he has every right to wear. Socks that completely torpedoed any chance that those who disagreed with Kapernick’s views on police would actually listen to his message.

As someone who had no problems with Kaepernick’s singular, silent protest (and I still do, despite this display of idiocy), I was saddened by the fact that his message was being ignored by zealots who adhere to patriarchal patriotism. What saddens me more than that is that Kaepernick had a legitimate chance of positively contributing to the dialogue on police shootings but he blew it. With his choice of footwear. Socks.

Wearing those socks during a training camp practice wasn’t witty or subversive, it was childish and immature. And that type of behavior does not contribute positively to or advance the conversations we need to have in this country on civilian police shootings and those who feel the need to target officers like we saw on those horrible days in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Those socks are just as corrosive to the relationship between blacks and police as the racist text messages sent by members of the SFPD not long ago. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t shot or oppressed anyone, but he sure as hell killed any chance he had of being a positive part of a difficult discussion.

We’re never going to get anywhere on this issue if we keep calling each other names. No one will listen when words like nigger and pig are used to demonize. And if we don’t listen to each other, we’ll never understand the pain and frustration of the other side. And if we don’t understand the other side, we’ll never start to heal this divide in our country. As Ty Duffy of The Big Lead wrote Thursday, “Broad, collective, and systemic change is hard. But, it starts simply, with respect and empathy.” Amen, brother. Amen.

This land is your land
This land is my land
This land was made for you and me
Woody Guthrie