Already engulfed in a controversy over refusing to stand during the National Anthem, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew more ire during a press conference when the wore a Fidel Castro T-shirt.
After the press conference he was criticized for wearing the t-shirt depicting Castro, the longtime communist dictator of Cuba, and Malcolm X, captioned: “Like Minds Think Alike.”
“There is no question that racial inequality needs to be a topic of conversation in the United States. But that gets us back to Cuba, where such conversations can get you in prison,” wrote Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz on Tuesday, who said his family left the communist country in 1961.
“We left our home, our furniture, most of [our] valuables and our relatives behind because we were seeking freedom. It wasn’t for money, nor the opportunity to visit Disney and Universal,” he wrote in an opinion piece. “We wanted to be free, and the United States, bless its soul, gave us that opportunity.”
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) August 30, 2016
“So yes, I find it personally insulting that Kaepernick is oblivious to the fact that Castro is one of the most vile dictators of modern times with extensive human rights violations.”
Kaepernick on Friday refused to stand for the national anthem. He explained it was to protest against what he considers wrongdoings committed against minorities. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media.
So far, he hasn’t commented on his Castro-Malcolm X shirt.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Cuban regime still violates the rights of its citizens.
“The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years,” the organization says in a brief outline of the country. “Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.”
A Cuban man, Sergio Sixto, who was imprisoned and tortured by Castro’s communist regime also wasn’t pleased with Kaepernick’s choice of attire.
“If that guy had a dictator like the Castro’s for 57 years in power in his country, he would know what it’s like to really be oppressed. Especially for black people. Black people are the most repressed in the country. The prisons are filled with them mostly,” he told the Independent Journal.
“There are more than 100 thousand people in Cuba that died in Cuba because of the Castros. There are 3 million people in exile from the country. If he would know what it’s like living in Cuba, he would know what it’s like to be an oppressed black man,” Sixto added.
And if Kaepernick protested in the way that he had on Friday, it would have been dire for him, Sixto noted.
“If he had said anything bad to say about the government or the Castros in protest of real discrimination and oppression, he might have found himself in prison like I did for trying to speak my mind and bring about change. And he would have been treated even worse,” he said.