San Francisco 49ers Pledge $1 Million to Social Justice Orgs

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Colin Kaepernick, #7 of the San Francisco 49ers, poses for photos with fans after a 31-21 win over the San Diego Chargers during a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 1, 2016 in San Diego, California.

By Kenrya Rankin

It appears Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police violence inflicted on Black bodies is having a positive impact on his team’s leadership. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York announced yesterday (September 8) that the team will donate a total of $1 million to two local organizations that work to end racial and economic disparities in communities in the Bay Area.

ESPN reports that the money will be donated to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation, both of which make grants to grass-roots organizations working on the ground. The announcement comes nearly two weeks after Kaepernick first opted not to stand during the “Star-Spangled Banner”, and a week after he announced that he will donate $1 million of his own money to charities that support racial equity.

Per ESPN, York didn’t directly address police violence—except to say that he thinks officers draw unfair focus in conversations about racial inequity—but instead talked about what he sees as the underlying issues that contribute to the mass incarceration of Black people and why those issues should be more important than the perception of the protest:

“Whether or not I agree with Colin and his form of protest, it doesn’t matter,” York told ESPN. “I don’t think you can argue the facts of the socioeconomic divide that we see, especially in the Bay Area but throughout this country.” …

“We want to make sure that law enforcement—who are the front line on a lot of these issues, and probably not fairly so—are put in a position to figure out how we can work with the communities to help tie all of that together to help make our communities a better place.” …

“Regardless of who is on this football team and for how long, this is an important issue to the 49ers and our community, and it’s something that we’re going to stick with for a long time,” he said. “It’s sad that we’ve gotten off the real topic, that we’re all debating, ‘What did you think of this person’s comment? What did you think of this form of protest?’ as opposed to a socioeconomic divide that’s probably worse in the Bay Area than just about anywhere else in the country.” …

“When you look at the median income in San Francisco for African-Americans it’s $27,000 a year compared to $89,000 for Caucasians,” he continued. “That in turn can lead to the incarceration rates that we see in this state where it’s almost nine times as likely that an African-American will be imprisoned than a Caucasian. When you see those numbers, those numbers aren’t sustainable. The median income gap is more than double the national average. We need to address those things, and that’s why I really want to make sure we’re doing something about those things. That’s why I want to make sure we’re focusing on the issues as opposed to the form of protest.”

In September 2015, Forbes valued the San Francisco 49ers organization at $2.7 billion. It rakes in $427 million each year.

This article was reprinted from Kaiser Health News with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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