I really wanted the away jersey, the white base with the red numbers and letters, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I finally settled on the Colin Kaepernick home jersey. I hadn’t bought a jersey since jerseys were in style back in the early 2000s but I figured if I was going to buy a bulky sporting jersey, the Kaepernick one seemed right. And to me, it also seemed right to throw on that jersey a few mornings ago and go do my job – that is, to teach.
I must admit, I felt a tinge of conscious uncomfortability as I walked into school that morning. Of the few things I learned in teachers’ college, one was that a teacher should never overbearingly share particular personal information especially in regards to religious views and political opinions. I guess the idea behind this parting notion is that teachers are in a position of such authority that sharing these types of personal ideologies can affect students in ways that detract from the main purpose of schooling. It is the narrative that posits how teaching ought to be objective and slightly impersonal. But that’s another topic for another day. So, as I passed some of my colleagues while donned in the 49ers number 7, I wondered what they may be thinking as they saw me. As the morning bell rang and both students and teachers began to flood the hallways, a fellow teacher gazed in my direction and quizzically asked, “Are you a Kaepernick fan?” Uh oh, the first sign of potential conflict with a peer I thought. I remarked, “Not so much a fan of his play, but I am a fan of his stance.” Wrong choice of word I immediately thought. He chuckled and said, “Ahh okay, yeah me too, man.” I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t glad that he agreed with my opinion on the whole subject.
When it comes to this whole Colin Kaepernick issue, I can understand both sides of the coin and would never take a hardline against anyone who feels like what he is doing is wrong. Of course this subject stems from race and racism, but for me as an educator, I find more value in seeing it as an issue about choice. Beneath all the core learning objectives teachers strive to impart upon their students day in and day out, fostering the values of self-esteem, confidence, and independence is what good educators keep in mind as they teach, assess, and communicate. Wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey to work is not necessarily a sign of allegiance with how this man chose to take action against injustices. But it is a sign of solidarity with the notion that all individuals have the freedom to express their opinions, and as long as it is not hurting anyone, the freedom to demonstrate action in the hopes of creating a better community. In a school where many students already feel like the deck is against them, simply wearing that jersey is an open invitation to discuss something that is vital to their learning – agency. Perhaps I will push this agenda in the future, but this first time wearing it I didn’t draw any attention to it, I just let it stand alone. So that is why I decided to wear that jersey to school.
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