I bought my son Emmett a Kaepernick jersey. It arrived via mail today.
When he arrived home from camp I said, “Go look in your room. There’s a jersey waiting for you.” Moments later he returned, decked out in the 49ers red and white, a No. 7 across his chest.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“I love it,” he said.
Emmett is a collector of jerseys. Through the years it’s become our little bonding hobby—the goal has always been to snag a jersey of every NFL team, never for more than, oh, $15 on eBay. That means his uniforms have included (in no particular order) a Brandon Weeden Browns No. 3, a T.J. Houshmandzadeh Bengals No. 84, a Tashard Choice Cowboys No. 23. It’s never about the player, the stats, the legacy. It’s just about the colors, the style, the uniqueness.
This, though, was different.
On our drives and walks and runs, we’ve discussed Colin Kaepernick on myriad occasions. We’ve shared thoughts on kneeling, on police targeting African-Americans, on Trump. I’ve explained to him—cautiously, relatively unemotionally—the genesis of the kneeling, and why it has brought forth so much anger and debate in this country. While I am (obviously) liberal, I can certainly understand why some are opposed to the gesture. I’ve tried to explain that to Emmett to the best of my abilities. The idea that not everything is black and white, even when it seems so, well, black and white.
A few weeks ago, I asked Emmett—casually—whether he’d want a Kaepernick jersey. There was no flinching or delay. “Oh, definitely,” he said.
I was glad to buy it.