While our Shardé Gilliam did an amazing job with her piece, “The Best Natural Hair Moments of The Decade,” there was one special moment that didn’t make her list, an incident that left me shooketh and reminded me while I’m so glad that Twitter is free.
Picture it, Preseason football, San Diego, September 1st, 2016.
Most of us were just chilling at home, watching the Niners vs. Chargers game to support Colin Kaepernick. Remember, at a time when he was just gaining press for taking a knee during the National Anthem as a means to raise awareness around racism and police brutality in America.
But Colin took us by surprise. Out of nowhere, he struts out onto the field and debuts one of the most luxurious and picked-out afros I’d seen in a minute! And like most natural hair moments before him, his afro wasn’t just about a style, it’s was about something much deeper.
It was about making a statement.
By rocking his hair all the way out, Kap was sending his detractors who wanted him to “shut up and play,” a simple message: “F-you, Ima be on this field, and be Black AF and you can’t do anything about it.”
Granted, back then we didn’t know that Kap would eventually be blackballed from the field. Or that a few months later President Trump would call him a “son of a bitch,” or that Colin would end up suing the NFL for collusion and settling with them. Maybe we were naive when we shouldn’t have been.
We were just trying to pay tribute to him the best Black Twitter knows how…with humor and love. Now, the hashtag may have lost a little bit of its humor, because we know now that by having the audacity to be Black in America and stand up for he believed in, it ended up costing him so damn much.
It cost the game he loves so much.
But in 2019, I can look at that moment and his beautiful afro and recognize that it also embodies this ultimate sacrifice and his beautiful metamorphosis into civil rights activist and a strong principled Black man.
“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 August 2016. “
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.”
“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.”
That he did.
Yes, he might have lost his job, but he never lost sight of what matters most, speaking up and our about the importance of Black Lives.
Take a look at more of his best afro moments below: