Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Communication Studies

First Advisor

Darrin Hicks

Second Advisor

Thomas Nail

Third Advisor

Joshua Hanan

Fourth Advisor

Mary Claire Loftus


Anthem, Communication, Fanon, Kaepernick, Media, Protest


The NFL anthem protests were and are an important cultural moment and social movement. The widespread emulation of the protest, and the adoption of the kneel as a symbol of unity, reverence, and silent objection demonstrates the protests’ continued relevance. This dissertation critically analyzes Colin Kaepernick’s protest through the lens of racial rhetorical criticism (Flores, 2016) and Fanonian communication studies (Towns, 2020). Through the case studies of David Brooks, Lee Siegel, and Colin Fleming, and their New York Times opinion pieces on Kaepernick from 2016-17, this study argues that the common discourses surrounding the protest exist within the strategic rhetoric of whiteness (Nakayama and Krizek, 1995). The analysis of these texts and of scholarly literature on the protests creates implications for racial rhetorical criticism, new materialism, and social movement rhetoric. This dissertation works to mark and incorporate whiteness into its analysis by critically questioning what constitutes the human. In this pursuit, this study articulates that Kaepernick’s body is used as a medium for the re-establishment of a Western subjectivity (Leong, 2016; Towns, 2019, 2020).

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Cody Walizer


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

153 pgs