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Ralph Reiland

Protesting U.S., Kaepernick ignores Cuba's oppression

| Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
49ers Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before their game against the Panthers on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Charlotte.
49ers Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before their game against the Panthers on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Charlotte.

At a news conference following his original refusal to stand during the national anthem at a 49ers' preseason game in August 2016, then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick wore a shirt depicting scenes from a 1960 meeting between Fidel Castro and Malcolm X, displaying the phrase “Like minds think alike.”

Wrote Miami Herald sports columnist Greg Cote at the time: “Short of lighting a match and torching the American flag in downtown San Francisco, there isn't much the 49ers' star could be doing to draw more attention to his protest over racial inequality.”

Kaepernick was seeking to put a spotlight on inequality and shootings of blacks by police.

If, in fact, it was inequality in distribution of wealth and income in the U.S. that had Kaepernick sitting or kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a quick look at his pay stub might have indicated to him that he might have had an obvious obligation to do some income redistribution and leveling of his own.

“After leading the San Francisco 49ers to consecutive NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, Colin Kaepernick was rewarded with a ‘record' seven-year, $126 million contract,” reported Business Insider in December 2014. “But after Kaepernick's nightmare season we are already seeing that the contract is not nearly as big as everybody made it out to be, and he could receive as little as $25.9 million.”

Either way, $126 million or $25.9 million, Kaepernick's pay vastly surpassed U.S. workers' median earnings — $865 per week for all full-time wage and salary workers in the first quarter of 2017, or $44,980 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Similarly, compensation of $126 million or $25.9 million substantially beats the state-controlled salaries of the top baseball players in Cuba. The highest-level players in Cuba, overall, receive 0.5 percent of U.S. Major League Baseball salaries due to the Castro regime's leveling mandates and compensation ceilings.

“If the defectors (from Cuba) could form a team, they would have every chance of winning a world title,” reported the U.K.'s The Guardian in 2014, referring to the centrally imposed pay ceilings for players' salaries, “little different from those of a construction site worker, bus driver or librarian.”

And at that time, The Guardian said, “More than 20 players have deserted Cuba in the past four years to pursue Major League millions in the U.S.”

When the San Francisco 49ers visited the Miami Dolphins in November 2016, “Kaepernick engaged in a conference call with members of the South Florida media,” reported The Washington Post.” A Cuba-born Miami sports columnist asked about the shirt Kaepernick had worn that appeared to show support for Fidel Castro.

Kaepernick had already explained, in August 2016: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag or a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

He doesn't seem to comprehend how the Castro dictatorship oppressed Cubans of every color.

Ralph R. Reiland is associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (

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