Way More Than Hair

I remember when I was younger I grew my hair out. It wasn’t nearly the height or volume that you would equate to an Afro but it was far higher than I’ve ever had it before in my life. I remember that I couldn’t brush it into shape and only a pretty good sized comb could go through it. I didn’t think much of it until one day my Dad had a discussion about some things he noticed about me.

I’ll never forget what he did that day. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He then pulled out a ten dollar bill and handed it to me. “Son, you need a haircut,” he plainly said. The message was clear that what I was growing on top of my head was not of his approval or liking.

I went to the barber shop the next day.

I thought about that moment in my life with all the noise going on around Michael Vick’s comments about Colin Kaepernick. Vick made a comment on Fox Sports One’s Speak For Yourself about what actions Kaepernick needed to take to get back into the NFL.

Vick suggested he needed to cut his hair.

The venom and anger that blazed through social media was swift and vicious. One would’ve thought Vick had returned to running another dog-fighting kennel.

I remember a lady at my church once told me, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.” Social media and other talk-show hosts carried the opposite belief. Calls of “coon” and “sellout” along with references of Uncle Tom and the Stockholm Syndrome popped up everywhere and within 48 hours, Michael Vick was apologizing to the pitchforks.

Never mind Vick had said numerous times that Kaepernick was a good person, that he hoped he would get another chance to play in the NFL, and that he was rooting for him. Never mind that he also said that the taking of a knee during the National Anthem or his stance against police brutality were not the reasons he was unemployed but his actual play over the past two seasons played a bigger role.

We are a land of short attention spans and we jump to conclusions faster that one can blink an eye. All people heard was, “Cut his hair” and they pounced.

As it has been well documented, Michael Vick wore cornrows while being the quarterback and the face of the franchise for the Atlanta Falcons. He made a decision for himself to cut them during his time of incarceration and before his bid to re-enter the league. I believe he spoke from his own experiences in giving the opinion he did.

An opinion. That’s all it was. And any person has two choices when dealing an opinion.

Take it or leave it.

But there’s a bigger issue that few are talking about. Colin Kaepernick has lost control of his own narrative. He has allowed too many other people to speak for him and about him.

Ironically, I was in the barber shop just today talking about this subject with a neighborhood friend of mine. After he spoke on forever about how Vick was wrong to tell Kaepernick to cut his hair, I told him Kaepernick’s biggest problem wasn’t that. It was he hasn’t said anything on his own behalf. If he would’ve gone on somebody’s program and done an interview things may be a bit different. He could’ve sat down with his Afro, his “I Know My Rights” T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers and articulated, in his own words, what he was doing and where he stood. Instead of posting activist slogans, he should’ve posted Instagram videos of him throwing a football.

After hearing me out, my friend agreed with me.

As the saying goes, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.” Colin Kaepernick needs to speak for himself. No tweets, no Instagram, no e-mails. We need to see his face, hear him talk about what’s important to him and what he wants to do next. I’m pretty sure the NFL is a place he wants to be. But there’s something more important.

He’s telling his narrative his way.


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