My 17-Year-Old Self on David Brooks on Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This is how I’d hope 17-year-old me would react, if I were 17 in 2016, to the latest David Brooks column, discussed after school but before basketball practice with my six friends:

“You read this shit?”

“What shit.”

“You’re going to hate me, but you know how I feel about a good David Brooks banger. And this one was on Kaepernick.”

“That nigga is corny. So, Rem, you are also corny.”

“Well, yeah. But fuck it, I still read it. Know that I barely made it out of the first paragraph.”

“What did it say?”

This column is directed at all the high school football players around the country who are pulling a Kaepernick — kneeling during their pregame national anthems to protest systemic racism. I’m going to try to persuade you that what you’re doing is extremely counterproductive.

“Get your people.”

“I know, man. Remember back in the day when I was like, ‘I’m not white, I’m Jewish,’ and it worked? Brooks is fucking everything up.”

“Hahaha, you’re white as hell now, no take-backs.”

“Fucking Opies, man. We gotta be stopped.”

“I like how he addressed it to us, the black delegation. Like we have been out here, waiting on Brooks for guidance.”



“Rem, what else did he say?”

“Literally, the next paragraph he talks about what the Europeans’ intentions were upon arriving. But forgets to say anything about, like, slavery.”

“That’s so tight.”

“Here’s the thing: There’s no proof that slavery, like the moon landing, actually happened. Where are the receipts? Basically, y’all just don’t have the education to understand where my dude DB is coming from.”

“Wait. Question — did he reference any black people?”

“Yes. Two. I’ll give anyone $10 if they guess both on the first try.”

“King and Malcolm.”


“King and Obama.”


“King and Baldwin.”

“Wait, James or Doug. Either way, no.”

“King and Oprah.”


“King and Shaun King”

“You’re a monster. And please refer to him by his government name, Clifford T.I. Harris.”

“King and Coates.”

“GOT ’EM. Realest of talks, though, I only have three bucks and I need two of them for the vending machine. But you’re still that dude.”

“Wait, here’s the line: Martin Luther King Jr. sang the national anthem before his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and then quoted the Declaration of Independence within it.”

“They should rename the Seahawks that. The Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Sang the National Anthem Before His ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ and Then Quoted the Declaration of Independence Within It Hawks.”

“Seriously, though. Y’all have to read this. It’s like ‘Knuck If You Buck,’ but with even more knuck.”

“I hope Charles Blow hit him with that Randy Moss–Trent Dilfer look in the newsroom.”

“What’s that?”


Photo: ESPN

“Lord, we lift your shade on high.”

“So, what is his ultimate point?”

“Basically, that we need to unite on some kumbaya shit, but also that black people would benefit by simply ideologically commuting to wherever white people are.”

“Ah, so that’s why we shouldn’t kneel. Because ‘unity.’”

“Holy shit, my nigga David’s last paragraph is Illmatic.”

“Wait, let me read it—”

We have a crisis of solidarity. That makes it hard to solve every other problem we have. When you stand and sing the national anthem, you are building a little solidarity, and you’re singing a radical song about a radical place.


“Who is better, David Brooks or Young Thug?”

“David Brooks.”

“Definitely David Brooks.”

“Wait, has anyone ever seen David Brooks and Thugger at the same place, at the same time?”

“Holy shit.”

“Seriously, though, doesn’t it kind of upset you that he got paid for this?”

“Yeah, man. Probably a lot, too.”

“Nah, no way. I refuse to believe it. No way the New York Times pays David Brooks.”

“Seriously, I bet he gets paid a lot of money.”

“Do you think he knows that all this is going to do is make black kids more radical?”

“Every time we see white people, let’s take a knee.”

“I’m going to take naps in public places, while kneeling. No Brooks Days Off.”

“But maybe he’s a mole. Maybe he’s not just an out-of-touch keyboard with a head shot. Maybe he’s insulting our intelligence and patronizing us and pissing us off to inspire us.”

“Maybe he’s black.”

“Nothing blacker than reading David Brooks for motivation.”

“Blacks don’t let blacks not hate-read David Brooks.”

“David Brooks? More like Huey Newton.”

“With one piece, David Brooks has inspired black people more than Barack Obama.”

“I’m going to name my future son David Brooks Jr., after I rename myself David Brooks.”

“God damn, I love that nigga David Brooks.”

My 17-Year-Old Self on David Brooks on Colin Kaepernick