#TakeAKnee: An American Genealogy

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0001-6243-6553
August, Olivia, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Jones, Paul, Religious Studies, University of Virginia

In August 2016 San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting for the national anthem during the NFL’s preseason. Kaepernick has been maligned as disrespectful by his opponents and held up as the next Muhammad Ali by his proponents with each side of the debate reading his actions according to the ferocity of the other side. While paying attention to both arguments, this paper seeks to articulate and analyze Colin Kaepernick’s position in the intersections of neoliberal governmentality and subjecthood, and a non-violent movement with explicit historical roots stretching back at least two generations and whose influences reach back even farther, but furthermore, it seeks to illuminate a fundamental misunderstanding of Kaepernick’s position within this intersection. He is neither a disrespectful distraction nor the next Muhammad Ali. Instead, he is a participant in an inherited legacy of King, one that has been molded by hegemonic discourses to exclude the more radical aspects of King’s activism. Furthermore, it exposed the myth of the free neoliberal subject, especially within the NFL, and the complicated terrain of taking a stand in a hostile environment.

MA (Master of Arts)
Colin Kaepernick, #TakeAKnee, NFL, football, neoliberal, racism, police brutality, governmentality, protest, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr.
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