As the racial battle of narratives heightens, almost everyone in the United States has voiced their opinion on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s highly-publicized protests against police brutality—including President Barack Obama.
While the “Commander-in-Chief” has remained relatively mute on the spate of recent, highly-publicized instances of police violence against Black people, he wants Kaepernick to think about the “pain” he’s causing military families next time he chooses to take a knee during the national anthem.
“Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama said during a CNN town hall with members of America’s armed forces community on Wednesday. “So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing.”
Perhaps to his credit, the president did add, (though almost as an afterthought): “I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”
These comments come on the heels of protests against the killings of 3 Black men by police in the last couple of weeks, the latest in a roster of continuing violence across the country. While Obama has released no statement on the latest extra-judicial killing, claiming the life of Alfred Olango in El Cajon, California, he did have comments on protests that broke out in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, in demonstrations against the murders of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, respectively.
Instead of offering condolences to the victim’s families, however, he opted instead to extend the courtesy of a presidential phone call to the mayors of both citiesamidst the ensuing protests.
The unevenness of Obama’s response is consistent with a pattern that dates back at least to his first presidential campaign when, instead of expressing any sympathy, he instead chastised New Yorkers angry about the acquittal of three police officers who had opened fire on 23-year old Sean Bell as he left his bachelor party at a Queens strip club, killing the young African-American the day before his wedding day.