When Colin Kaepernick chose last year to kneel during the National Anthem at NFL games, he probably didn’t expect it to land him on the cover of GQ magazine, after the entire country — including the president — weighed in on his protest against police brutality imposed on the black community.
GQ’s December Men of the Year issue was released Monday, and also features “Bad Hombre of the Year” Stephen Colbert, “Champion of the Year” Kevin Durant and “Wonder Woman of the Year” Gal Gadot. Kaepernick is honored as “Citizen of the Year,” a decoration that now has his name trending on Twitter.
Celebs from J. Cole to Ava Duvernay wrote about Kaepernick’s influence over the past year for the issue.
J. Cole said Kaepernick “sacrificed his dream” to stand up for what he believed was right.
“Suddenly something that he’s been doing blindly for his whole life–standing for the national anthem–now feels uncomfortable,” the rapper wrote. “Why? Because now it feels phony! It feels like, ‘Man, how can I stand for this thing when this country is not holding itself true to the principles it says it stands for? I feel like we’re lying.'”
DuVernay wrote that she sees Kaepernick’s actions as “art.”
“I believe that art is seeing the world that doesn’t exist,” the filmmaker said. “Civil rights activists are artists. Athletes are artists. People who imagine something that is not there. I think some folks see his protests, his resistance, as not his work. Not intentional. Not strategic. Not as progressive action. As if this was just a moment that he got caught up in. This was work. This is work that he’s doing.”
To read the full feature, head over here.
The GQ honor comes after Sports Illustrated came under fire for not including Kaepernick in their “Sports United” cover back in September, when the NFL/Anthem protests were in full swing, dominating the country’s collective conversation. SI’s executive editor Stephen Cannella said at the time that the former 49ers quarterback was left out because they wanted the piece to focus on “new voices” that emerged in the debate.
Granted, not everyone is excited about Kaepernick’s new designation, and some conservatives online are calling for a GQ boycott. But the fact that the magazine can lean left is nothing new — special correspondent Keith Olbermann even hosts a web series called “The Resistance.”
Yet, the reactions (at least on weathervane Twitter) have been mostly positive: