J. Cole has high praise for Colin Kaepernick, who has been named “Citizen the Year” by GQ for his work in protesting police brutality.
Kap, who is suing the NFL for colluding to have him blackballed from the league due to his protest, does not speak in the article. Instead, he allows Martin Schoeller’s photos and others to bring his message to light.
Along with filmmaker Ava DuVernay and actor/activist Harry Belafonte, Cole is one many to discuss Kaepernick’s impact. As a former San Francisco 49ers fan, the rapper said it was particularly meaningful to see Kaepernick’s protest.
“It hit another level for me the second I learned he was taking a knee. And it wasn’t just that—it was when I saw the shit he was saying in the interviews when they pressed him about it,” he explained. “His answers were just so clear and potent. Like, right on point. And he wasn’t backing down. And he wasn’t afraid. He was just being honest. And it didn’t seem like he was looking for attention. It caught me f guard because, you know, nothing personally against him, I just didn’t know when I met him that the person with the biggest balls in sports would be him.”
He went on to praise Kaepernick’s actions and talk about how his protest eventually led to multiple sacrifices. “You’re talking about a guy in his athletic prime, who’s lived his whole life dreaming about playing football at a level that millions kids dream to get to,” he added. “And in his first big season, he takes his team to within five yards winning a Super Bowl. But then, at some point in time, he becomes conscious about what’s happening in the world. And suddenly something that he’s been doing blindly for his whole life–standing for the national anthem–now feels uncomfortable. Why? Because now it feels phony! It feels like, Man, how can I stand for this thing when this country is not holding itself true to the principles it says it stands for? I feel like we’re lying. And look what happens to him. Had he not done that, this guy would be making millions dollars right now. Period, point blank. And more important than the money, he was living his dream. He sacrificed his dream.”
Cole has been a vocal supporter Kap. In September, he called for an NFL boycott in support the former quarterback, who is still without a job in the league. In August, he defended Kaepernick during a concert in Baltimore.
“Baltimore, the type shit that’s happening here, don’t you think somebody should risk their whole livelihood and their whole life to talk about this shit even if it cost them they money, they job, they life?” he said. “Don’t that sound like Colin Kaepernick? Don’t that sound like what he doing? And he trying to come to Baltimore, the city that seems to need that shit for real.”