A the stadium sang and stood to our

A big topic in today’s media is American
football athletes have started kneeling during the national anthem in protest
of what America truly stands for. In his senior year of college, football
player Colin Kaepernick felt at loss with America along with his ethnic
history. (Branch) Before he knew it, he was to become the face of social
activates for black American men, and to become aware of the truth of everyday
challenges he previously did not know about because of his fortunate early
life. When police brutality against black American men started to rise
exponentially as if a trend, Mr. Kaepernick chose to protest such social
prejudice, particularly the violence against black Americans, in a way that
many individuals fear: peacefully. Kaepernick chose to sit while the stadium
sang and stood to our American national anthem. Many to this day follow in his
footsteps and join him to take a knee while others hold a grudge against Kaepernick
and say all he is doing is stirring distaste to the NFL. But why kneel? In a
military funeral, after the flag is taken off the casket of the fallen military
member, it is folded 13 times and then presented to the parents, spouse or
child of the fallen while kneeling. The Kaepernick decided that kneeling for
the flag would symbolize his admiration for those that paid the ultimate
sacrifice. I for one see that the true patriots, are the ones taking a knee.
The truth of Kaepernick’s protest portrayed as disrespectful even when kneeling
is a sign of respect, has more to do with what he is protesting rather than how
he is protesting and the state of America today. In a protest you don’t agree
with, is a protest that needs to be stopped. this is only a dog whistle to the
racist among us to say otherwise.

            Individuals
such as our own president have tried to twist Kaepernick’s protest by inputting
their way of seeing hate to the troops while Kaepernick has stayed vocal about
his reasons for this protest. He has felt embarrassment about the social
inequality in our society, with black Americans being unfairly targeted by
police violence and would be rarely, if ever,  punished for causing such harm. He felt even
for his lucky upcoming as a child,  he
had the responsibility to use the podium he was handed as a gifted athlete, and
to bring attention to this issue. Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview
after the game that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag
for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…To me, this is
bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way”(Flaherty)
 Even if Kaepernick has gotten the most
attention, he has not been the only athlete to use his position to try and
bring attention to social activates issues. Muhammad Ali spoke against current
civil rights and often reviled. NBA players including Lebron James and Derrick
Rose wore shirts with the text “I can’t breathe, poking fingers to the death
of Eric Garner, who’s last words were as such. Many athletes in the past used
their position to show the world that there needs to be change. While the list
I have given was short and incomplete, it does demonstrate that black American
athletes have a history using their social spot to bring thought. Therefore
when Kaepernick began his trail, he was only continuing this history and using
his spot for good and for the African American community. We must keep this in
mind, because the reasons for his protest have always been mischaracterized by
individuals who see against  his right to
protest. In the past he has been characterized as disrespectful to troops but
neither have been claimed to be in position of what he himself or other players
joining him have described as to why they are peacefully protesting this social
outcry.

           

            Many
actions in the past by NFL players have not resulted in boycotts especially as
large as Kapernick’s. Individuals who support Kaepernick do not understand that
those who are calling for a NFL boycott against kneeling players have not
protested the NFL in the past. The NFL has a deep past with employing
criminals. This even goes beyond employing those who have been accused of
crimes, but actually hiring people after they have been truly convicted for
violent offenses. As an example of having no boycotts in a result of a player;
there was Michael Vick who had a dog fighting ring which tortured animals to
their deaths. This ended with no NFL boycotts even after the fact the NFL went
and rehired him by a team serving a prison sentence. Dozens of players that
have been accused of assault, physical or sexual, have been hired by the NFL.
Ray Rice who is even on videotape beating his fiancé in an elevator so severely
that she loses consciousness, and Josh brown who has admitted to domestic
violence. “A public uproar followed.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who’d initially suspended Rice for two games,
extended the punishment indefinitely, and announced a stricter domestic
violence policy that called for a six-game suspension for first-time
offenders.” (Anon). There
has been no mass boycotts like Kapernick’s or even any at all for hiring men
who beat or rape women. This must lead individuals to question motives of
others and their drive for a boycott about a peaceful protest such as kneeling.
This can make it clear that even if they did not call for such a boycott of a
wife beater such as Ray Rice, they certainly would call one for staying silent
during our anthem. To many people having an active known woman beater involved
in shaping our youth, seems to be far more dangerous than grown men kneeling.
As a result, individuals such as myself now believe that people who want a
boycott actually has very little to do with the actions in which players take part
in to protest, but more the motives in which they protest. These black players
speak against racial unfairness in America which make people, white people,
uncomfortable. So instead of addressing what the players are protesting,
hecklers of the protest avoid the topic at hand and start to explain why
kneeling is disrespectful to the flag. But is it actually?

            One
can easily search the internet for the answer to this blatant question as to if
kneeling truly is disrespectful to the American Flag. One search can bring up
the fact that  athletes taking a knee is
to represent another who is hurt on the field even the opposing team of the
player who got hurt. Taking a knee has implication of respect and concern in
any sport. in addition, though Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee has been
describes as disrespectful to the troops, there is yet another tradition but
this one in the military. To take a knee at funerals of fallen companion is a
must for any veteran. This shows respect for the fallen. So when Kaepernick
went to former football player and veteran Nate Boyer, he had this in mind
rather than sitting to show respect and concern. I cannot talk about taking a
knee without looking back at the symbolic movement that has been used
throughout history. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arguably our most famous Civil
Rights leader. He too had put his knee down to show respect to others in prayer
to prisoners in Selma. Many americans admire Martin, when in reality during his
own time he was a victim of scorn much like Kaepernick, by the people who
weren’t comfortable enough with anything other than the status quo.

            Those
for the boycott argue the fact that they stand for the troops who cannot. They stand
because they love their country and to honor the people putting their lives on the
line for them on a daily basis in the army. They believe that in the world of turmoil,
one thing is that the flag and everything our country was built on is one of the
many important factors we rely on. To fast forward fifteen years and hopefully look
back unified with pride as Americans.

            Colin
Kaepernick’s choice to take one knee during our national anthem sparked a
movement for not just the NFL but America as a whole. With all its popularity,
this protest is truly in almost all different types of professional sports to
bring attention to racism. It’s no surprise that by come portray the riot as
against the troops when in reality, they protest that “as long as America
continues to treat people differently based on skin color, then it has failed
to fulfill the promises in the constitution. Maybe instead of asking why he
took a knee, we should ask ourselves why didn’t more take a knee?

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