The Kneel for Social Justice: Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, and The Black Lives Matter Movement

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Surya, Andrew
Colin Kaepernick , Megan Rapinoe , NFL , National Anthem Protest , Black Lives Matter , Police Violence , Athlete Activism , Instagram , Discourse Analysis , Social Media
In 2016 Colin Kaepernick captured the attention of America when he did not stand for the playing of the national anthem before a National Football League preseason game to protest racist police violence. Shortly thereafter, Megan Rapinoe a female professional soccer player chose to support Kaepernick and knelt during the national anthem as well in protest. The media and public reaction towards the athletes was influenced by the racial landscape of the United States in 2016. This thesis is a critical discourse analysis of user generated comments on the social media platform Instagram in response to Kaepernick’s and Rapinoe’s protest to determine public perception of athlete activism, racism, and other social issues. Utilizing critical race theory, I argue that dominant discourses in opposition towards the athletes reflect colourblind ideologies and appear race-neutral, but in reality reinforce a white racial hierarchy. In addition, I contend that online social media platforms can function as spaces where hegemonic ideologies around race can be contested.
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