Those who lack context, lose all credibility – the Story of Colin Kaepernick

Ron Martinelli, Ph.D.

Forensic Criminologist/Police Expert

Copyright © 08-29-16

Colin Kaepernick Photo

Oppression, (Noun), Def. “prolonged, unjust or cruel exercise of authority; maltreatment, subjection, repression, suppression.”

By now many who follow sports, and some that don’t, have heard about the latest embarrassment in the NFL – San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand in respect during the playing of our National Anthem during a preseason game.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Kaepernick, he is a former University of Nevada – Reno quarterback whom the 49ers selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. After playing backup during his rookie season to quarterback Alex Smith, Kaepernick assumed the primary QB mantle after Smith was sidelined during the 2012 season with a concussion. After dazzling fans with his performance, coach Jim Harbaugh named Kaepernick as his primary QB. Since that time, Kaepernick has been sidelined from time to time with injuries.

Colin Kaepernick’s newest problems surfaced after a reporter noticed that he had not stood up during the playing of the National Anthem. When an NFL reporter questioned Kaepernick about his behavior, the quarterback responded that his decision to remain seated during the anthem was deliberate because he wanted to bring awareness to things in this country he believes are unjust. When asked to articulate what he meant, Kaepernick responded that he is protesting what he believes is America’s “unjust and oppressive treatment of black people and people of color.” According to Kaepernick, “what this country stands for – liberty, freedom and justice for all – in not happening for all right now.” During a recent press conference, Kaepernick refused to back away from his behavior and in fact double-downed, saying that he would remain seated during the playing of the national Anthem until he feels that our nation’s ideas are being realized for all. This is an interesting perspective from someone who knows little to nothing about the what real oppression is all about.

So who is Colin Kaepernick and what has shaped his character? Perhaps an even more focused question would be to ask him what context does he have of American society and of the so-called “oppression of blacks and people of color?”

Colin Kaepernick was born on November 3, 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a white mother Heidi Russo (19) and a black father.  Unfortunately, Colin’s father disappeared soon after discovering that Heidi was pregnant and abandoned the pair. To this day, Russo refuses to identify Colin’s biological father. Russo gave Colin up for adoption to a white couple, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, soon after Colin was born. The couple had two other children and raised Colin as their own. Theresa Kaepernick told the New York Times in 2010 that she and her husband were always very open about adoption and skin colors. They were quite comfortable with having Colin as their son.

Colin recalls a difficult childhood where he and the family received curious stares. He states that classmates told him that the Kaepernick’s weren’t his real parents. Yes, kids can be cruel. However, Colin credits his adopted father for instilling what he refers to as “strong values” in him from childhood. He states that his father told him to carry himself in a certain way and to always treat people with respect. Kaepernick states that this is something that he has carried over throughout his life and how he deals with situations. Well, for me that’s a problem and one of the reasons for this column today.

My problem with Colin Kaepernick is the same that I have with many young and high-profile people his age today. His behavior does not reconcile with what he says his values are. He tells us that he was taught to always treat people with respect. Yet, by remaining seated during our National Anthem, he is decidedly disrespectful to an entire nation of people who fought, died and were physically and psychologically maimed defending people just like him from being oppressed. Next, Kaepernick simply lacks the maturity, knowledge, and important “context” about such terms as oppression, civil rights, liberty and freedom that allows one to have the understanding and mature insight to know what real oppression, maltreatment and subjugation of people are. That’s where the heart of Colin’s problems lie.

I get it Colin; you are angry having been abandoned by your biological father. Yet, you don’t seem to find his actions as having been “oppressive” – prolonged psychological maltreatment – towards your white biological mother by denying her the comfort of a loving relationship and a parenting partner? How about your biological father’s actions in abandoning you? You don’t see any cruel exercise of parental authority vis-a-vie his desertion of that authority which appears now to have negatively impacted your childhood? That’s not “oppressive?” And albeit you state that you are so concerned about what you refer to as “accountability,” you don’t cry out for accountability from the very man who abandoned you before you were even born? Deep, right?

Now let’s talk about real “oppression of blacks and people of color.” How about gun violence? In Chicago this month there have been 84 homicides. Of those, 74 were from gun violence. Of those 78.6% were black victims and 16.4% were Hispanic victims. Only 5% were white or other races. A person in Chicago is shot every 2:03 minutes and murdered every 11:56 minutes. You don’t think an environment where people lock themselves inside of their iron-barred up homes at night like they were enlarged jail cells isn’t “oppressive” to members of the minority community?

How about black and other minority gang bangers and dope dealers who sell cocaine, crack, meth and other hard, addictive drugs to members of the black and minority communities. You don’t think that the physical and psychological enslavement of people of color to drugs for the rest of their lives isn’t “oppressive; or prolonged, cruel treatment” of the minority community?

Colin, you don’t think that turning young children into dope dealers and young girls into prostitutes isn’t “oppressive?” Just where have you been, bro? Oh yes, I remember. You’ve been busy tossing around that football in the safe suburbs of Turlock, CA and Reno, NV. You’ve been too busy working on yourself than hanging around “the hood” to observe real oppression. Now you are a 1%er, making about $19 million a year for throwing a football around and living the high life in a gated community with your MTV entourage. You amaze me with your self-centered, insulated, new found interpretation of “social justice.”

A personal challenge to you Colin Kaepernick – Are you man enough to accept it?

Here’s my challenge to you Colin. Get out into the real world and learn something about what real oppression is and just who is fighting it on your behalf. It might astound you, but it’s the police; not Black Lives Matter, my man. You need to get educated. Get over to Oakland at 1 AM and walk around the Acorn Projects, Ghost Town, Cypress Village, Ice City and Bushrod Park. Then pop over the bridge to your 49er home town and visit Big Block in Hunter’s Point, and watch the boys from the Oakdale and Bay Sho Mobs selling dope to your fans. Maybe you can gather up some courage to chastise them for oppressing “The People.” I doubt it though. It’s just not you from what I can see. You are more of the overly-entitled, millionaire, limousine liberal, “social justice” celebrity type.

Here’s another helpful suggestion. Why don’t you learn something about how police are trained and what they actually do for a living before you call them murderers? How about signing up for a one-week ride-a-long with the Oakland and San Francisco Police Departments. Actually get into a squad car and watch how cops police the streets; trying to protect communities and citizens from the real oppressors of American society; the crooks. You might learn something about the lack of respect for authority and how dangerous and challenging it is for police in today’s uninformed, selfish society to de-escalate angry, volatile and drug-influenced people.

Finally, do some real studying about politics and sociology and try to determine how and why endless government entitlement programs; a broken education system; the cancellation of school voucher programs and exceedingly high high school dropout rates have oppressed the minority community by destroying the incentive to move upwards in society and out of poverty and despair.

After you have completed my challenge; report back and tell us in a press conference what you learned. From your background I see that you’ve never done anything other than being born in this great country to deserve citizenship and our freedoms and liberties. Yet you disrespect those of us who risked all so you could have that birthright. I am reminded of the last words of a mortally wounded American captain in Germany during World War II in the movie Saving Private Ryan; “Earn this.”

Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V, is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and retired police detective with the San Jose (CA) Police Department. Dr. Martinelli directs the nation’s only Forensic Death Investigations & Independent review Team and is the author of the new book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police,” ( His forensic site is found at