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‘I knew his message would be hijacked’

Ask Ice Cube about the Colin Kaepernick saga, and he’ll tell you he saw this coming.

When Kaepernick began protesting police brutality and racial inequality by refusing to stand for the national anthem two years ago, Ice Cube correctly predicted the quarterback’s method of protest would draw more attention than his actual message.

“I definitely support bringing awareness to police brutality of course, but I thought even from day one, his method would be a distraction to the real issue,” the rapper told Yahoo Sports. “Some people are looking for the distraction. Some people don’t want to address the real issue. The powers that be, the police kind of wield power on their behalf, so they’re not going to care too much about changing things. When you bring up a topic that needs to be really examined, most of these people are looking for the spin or the distraction.”

Ice Cube’s perspective on Kaepernick is noteworthy because of his history of speaking out against police brutality and racial profiling. The rapper wrote the infamous 1988 N.W.A. song “F— tha Police,” a brutal account of police misconduct that’s peppered with vulgar language and violent fantasies about retaliating against corrupt cops.

While Ice Cube has since evolved from a founder of gangsta rap to appearing in family-friendly movies, he still makes a point of lending his voice to the fight against police brutality. His 2017 single “Good Cop, Bad Cop” samples from “F— tha Police” and calls on law-abiding police officers to speak out against their corrupt brethren.

[Full Ice Cube Q&A: On first hearing his music on the radio, recruiting Kobe to the Big 3 and what makes a good diss track]

Just like Ice Cube’s protest songs inspired backlash, so has Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. President Donald Trump blasted Kaepernick and other players who followed his lead, arguing that not standing for the anthem is a show of disrespect for the flag, the military and the country and urging NFL owners to punish players who continue to kneel.

Wary of alienating the segment of its audience that agrees with Trump, the NFL has implemented a new policy mandating players and team personnel present on the sideline “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.” Kaepernick has also become radioactive to NFL teams as no franchise has been willing to sign him even though he’s just 30 years old and has thrown more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions in his career.

What has happened to Kaepernick reminds Ice Cube of the plight of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the former high-scoring Denver Nuggets guard who protested oppression by not standing for the anthem in 1996 and subsequently couldn’t get so much as a tryout with an NBA team after his contract expired. Ice Cube hopes for a different ending to Kaepernick’s story.

“I support him,” the rapper said. “I hope he gets back in the NFL. I do look at him as a hero in a lot of ways to take that stand. But I know how America reacts to this kind of stuff, so I knew his message would be hijacked by the whole flag situation.”

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Jeff Eisenberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

World Cup coverage from Yahoo Sports:
 2018 World Cup preview hub
 2018 World Cup contenders, tiered and ranked 1-32
 How will Russia’s many problems affect the World Cup?
 Ranking the top 100 players at the World Cup


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