kaepernick family

Colin Kaepernick has tense exchange with reporter over Fidel Castro T-shirt

As nationwide debate began during the NFL preseason over Colin Kaepernick's anthem demonstration, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback wore a T-shirt featuring Malcolm X and Fidel Castro during a news conference while he explained his convictions.

The controversial garb resurfaced Wednesday when Kaepernick held a conference call with South Florida media ahead of Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Kaepernick, who continues to kneel for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before each game in protest of oppression and police brutality in the United States, was asked about his views on Castro and his communist regime as president of Cuba. The quarterback pointed out his intent was to honor Malcolm X with the shirt, which depicted a meeting with Castro in 1960 in Harlem. It read, “Like Minds Think Alike.” Kaepernick said he supports Malcolm X’s willingness to be “open-minded,” exemplified by the meeting.

“I’m not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression,” he said. "I’m talking about Malcolm X and what he’s done for people.“

The reporter, from the Miami Herald, then pressed him further.

Here’s an account of the exchange, via the Palm Beach Post:

The reporter, from a family of Cuban exiles, then accused Kaepernick of diverting the conversation because it was "uncomfortable" to talk about perceived support of Castro.

At that point, Kaepernick said, "One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here, even though we’re fully capable of doing that.”

The reporter said Castro also broke up families, unlike what occurs in the United States.

“We do break up families here,” Kaepernick said. “That’s what mass incarceration is. That was the foundation of slavery so our country has been based on that as well as the genocide of native Americans.”

Kaepernick was asked if he was equating incarceration with breaking up families.

“I’m equating the breaking up of families with the breaking up of families,” he said.

Kaepernick has been heavily scrutinized for his protests, deemed by some as disrespectful to armed forces. The movement has since been adopted in different forms by athletes in the NFL and across the sports world. The intense criticism also has been cited as a reason for a sharp drop in ratings for the NFL this season.

Kaepernick said he doesn’t see a connection.

“They’re not watching football because of my stance about fighting systematic oppression and wanting the same equality and freedom for all people,” he said. “I would say they probably need to look in the mirror at what they value.

"You know, if they’re OK with people being treated unfairly, being abused, being harassed, being terrorized, then the problem is more with what they’re doing in their lives than it is about watching football games.”