Colin Kaepernick is GQ's Citizen of the Year. The magazine put the former football player on the cover to celebrate his sparking a movement. Kaepernick famously inspired athletes, celebrities and others to "take the knee" when he protested the national anthem as a way to spotlight the issue of police brutality.
As part of the story, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback helped assemble a ten-person team of his closest confidants including rapper J.Cole, director Ava DuVernay and activist Harry Belafonte to discuss activism, protest, and equality. The publication points to his social activism as part of a long history that includes Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.
"I see what he's done as art. I believe that art is seeing the world that doesn't exist. A lot of people excel at creativity—making TV, movies, painting, writing books—but you can be an artist in your own life. Civil rights activists are artists," shared Duernay, the filmmaker behind Selma and 13th. "Athletes are artists. People who imagine something that is not there. I think some folks see his protests, his resistance, as not his work. Not intentional. Not strategic. Not as progressive action. As if this was just a moment that he got caught up in. This was work. This is work that he's doing."
Cole pointed to the fact that Kaepernick sacrificed his own athletic career due to his activism. "Had he not done that, this guy would be making millions of dollars right now. Period, point blank. And more important than the money, he was living his dream. He sacrificed his dream."
Eric Reid, a former teammate, added that, "These issues are real, and people know they're real. But some will do anything to distract from that, to change the narrative, and it's gotten Colin blackballed from the NFL."
Since his "take the knee" movement went viral, Kaepernick has not played for a NFL team. Critics say the league has treated him unfairly—essentially locking him out— for being outspoken.
Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the football league.
[Photo: Getty Images]