Since Colin Kaepernick first sat during the national anthem in 2016, millions of people — including President Donald J. Trump — have argued over the legitimacy and place politics has in sports.
From the average family to billionaires, politicians and even celebrities, it seems that the entire country is divided on this issue. But celebrities have shown their support for Kaepernick in many ways. Some of the most talked about and recent incidents regard the many refusals to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show. Artists such as Jay-Z, Rihanna and Cardi B all aimed to show their support for Kaepernick by turning down the upcoming Super Bowl halftime show, showcasing their disapproval of the NFL.
In the weeks approaching the show, various artists declined the offer to perform alongside Maroon 5. Finally, Travis Scott agreed to perform with Maroon 5 under one condition — that the NFL donate to a charity of his choosing.
Initially, this proposal may seem fairly innocent and generous. But, the announcement has been the subject of much debate, as people argue about the principle of the compromise, what Kaepernick's protest should mean and whether the ordeal was just press exposure for Travis.
Superstars such as Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Kevin Hart have also been criticized for their conservatism on certain topics. The reason some celebrities choose to be safe with their political opinions in the limelight usually comes down to media notoriety. Celebrities risk losing fans, reputation and money if their political opinions aren't received well. Staying apolitical and career-focused, while not getting involved in a topic as polarized as politics, seems like the right move for a lot of people.
Scott’s decision to perform and demand the NFL donate to a charity is being taken as just that, a safe move. But many are criticizing Scott, saying he's not doing enough to bring justice for Kaepernick and is instead looking out for himself and his career. To compound this, Nessa Diab, a Hot 97 host and Kaepernick's girlfriend, said that the "mutual understanding" between Kaepernick and Scott that Travis's team alleged had never actually happened. Diab also tweeted a picture of the Urban Dictionary definition for “sell out,” captioning it “If you’re with them, then you are definitely not with us."
Diab is, of course, referring to the fact that Kaepernick has not played football since 2016 and is currently a free agent. While some say this is due to his performance, many believe that Kaepernick brought too much controversy and risk to the NFL, which is why he has not been signed. As a result, those who work with the NFL seem to be condoning what they did to Kaepernick.
Furthermore, TMZ reported that "Our (Scott) sources say based on the blowback he wanted to be 'sensitive to the black community,' and that's when he started thinking of some sort of donation the NFL might make.” Scott seemed to have been conscious of the black community the whole time. Regardless, his decision to work with the NFL, who's turning a blind eye to activism concerning the black community, is not being taken lightly. Kaepernick, and all of the players who kneel, are bringing light to “racial injustice and systematic racism” that's still very much alive and relevant in the country.
The similarity between the NFL and celebrities is that at the end of the day, both are controlled by the press. The NFL is a company in search of it and celebrities are trying to live out their dreams through it, and both can’t operate without the support and approval of millions of people. Big companies and celebrities may choose to be apolitical as a form of risk management. While both sometimes find success in being controversial, others tend to practice caution by staying away from difficult issues. Scott's decision doesn't seem to come down to personal morals or notions of justice, but through weighing his options and choosing the limelight.