Taking a knee is taking a stand

Those criticizing athletes for kneeling during the National Anthem are often missing the point.


by Kendall Lanier and Torri Henry

Growing up attending numerous football games, it has always been so easy to stand up for the National Anthem. Recently, professional athletes have started kneeling during the singing of The National Anthem before games, which has attracted a lot of controversial attention. It has had a ripple effect causing more celebrities and athletes to participate in this action. While we are going to continue to stand to show respect for our country, Americans should have the right to choose.

First and foremost, many critics do not understand the reason behind the kneeling. They are kneeling because too many unarmed African Americans have been wrongly murdered by policemen and have not gotten justice. Time after time, the system has failed to give justice to people of color that have been unlawfully mistreated or killed for harmless actions.

For example, Philando Castile was pulled over and while reaching for his license, he was shot due to the officer mistaking it for a gun. Trayvon Martin, who was walking home in his own neighborhood late at night, was followed by a neighborhood security guard and then was shot after an altercation. There has been no conviction for these two and the list goes on. How can you proudly stand for a country that has left you with disappointment countless times by not supporting all citizens?

Colin Kaepernick, the face of the protests, has sacrificed his football career by kneeling during the anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick while playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 to The Washington Post. The American Flag is supposed to represent the dignity and freedom of America, but for some, those are the two things that this country is missing most right now.

Now, many people feel as though Kaepernick and many others should speak about ‘political’ issues outside of work or sporting events. But here is the reality, this isn’t a ‘political’ issue, this is a common decency for humanity issue. Many figures have spoken out and have wondered why those kneeling don’t just voice to the public what they are protesting. What the public does not understand is that they have tried countless times and no one has seemed to listen.

People like Kaepernick are using their platform to stand up for injustice because doing it any other way would not attract attention to this majorly ignored matter. If you were quiet while countless minorities were being killed, then you are not at liberty to speak about the protesting that comes with it.

The opposers believe that kneeling is disrespectful to the soldiers who have fought for the country, but kneeling is not intended to disrespect soldiers. It is about the Constitution the soldiers fought for which states that all people are equal and gives us the freedom to be able to stand up for our beliefs. A righteous indignation was turned into “disrespect” by those who choose to ignore the issues in our country. The saying, “actions speak louder than words” really becomes true in this situation.

President Trump has been very outspoken about respecting The National Anthem, and suggested that the NFL should fire anyone who kneels during the anthem on the spot. He even went out of his way to call those players a disrespectful name during a rally in Alabama. Instead of uniting Americans, President Trump’s actions tend to divide the country.

If this country wants people to stop kneeling during The National Anthem, then this country needs to respect the lives of everyone. If we do not fight for what is right despite the backlash, we as a country will never move forward.