To #TakeTheKnee or Not #TakeTheKnee, That is the Question - The Herald: Opinion

To #TakeTheKnee or Not #TakeTheKnee, That is the Question

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Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 9:40 pm

Some 14 months ago, Colin Kaepernick, then-quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, knelt on the sidelines along his standing teammates during the national anthem. This demonstration, which sparked controversy across the nation, was in protest of police brutality and the oppressive systems that hinder black Americans in this nation.

Since the first moment his knee touched the turf, Kaepernick has since lost his job and is now an NFL free agent. While many people throughout the NFL have said Kaepernick’s unemployment and his protest have no correlation, it is clear to see that the two are directly related. With so many teams in the league in need of a decent quarterback, why shouldn’t he have a job? But I digress.

During a rally Friday in Huntsville, Alabama, Donald Trump declared that anyone in the NFL who takes a knee during the pregame singing of the National Anthem should be fired. He even referred to any player who participates in the protest as a “son of a bitch.”

These comments struck a nerve with many people in the world of professional athletes and many were pushed to call out Trump for his vulgar and degrading comments. However, the greatest and most widespread response came Sunday, currently known as NFL Sunday.

When the national anthem was played at every football game last Sunday, on every single team and every single broadcast, at least one football player knelt. Some locked arms as a sign of unity, and some coaches and NFL team owners even took part in the protests. These men united together--on national television--in protest. Protesting what? Donald Trump. That’s right. The NFL players, coaches and owners were all so moved by the president’s bigoted comments, they decided to come together to fight against him, more than a year after Kaepernick took his first knee on the field.

There are several problems with these demonstrations that took place on Sunday. First, if you’re going to mimic Kaepernick’s demonstration, at least copy the original issue he was fighting, as well. Kaepernick started his protest during the Obama administration, so it had nothing to do with Trump. Secondly, he was trying to raise awareness about the police brutality that is disproportionately felt in the black community.

Kaepernick had been sitting during the national anthem for over a year. Eventually, he made the decision to kneel rather than sit. He actually met with veterans to determine how he could properly protest during the national anthem, while still showing respect to military vets. So the same protest that everyday people love to deem disrespectful, was actually approved by military veterans. When he decided to kneel during the national anthem, the sole purpose was to serve as a direct response to police brutality against black people.

But since Trump’s “son of a bitch” comments, the narrative of the protest has shifted. Now people are kneeling in protest to Trump. They are protesting in response to his statement about participating players being fired.

This undermines the original issue Kaepernick was aiming to shed light on. For some reason, unarmed black people dying at the hands of police officers-- who are supposed to serve and protect--wasn’t enough for these players, coaches and owners to protest before. But the minute the president attacked their manhood and told them what to do, they were all hurrying to kneel.

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys and Arkansas native, even showed his support during the Cowboys’ game Monday and knelt alongside the team. Jones, however, also donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. So, what exactly was he “protesting”?

Police brutality isn’t a big enough issue, but the president’s name calling is? Name calling is nothing out of the ordinary in the context of the president’s character, so his comments should have come as no surprise to anyone.

According to The Guardian, young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015. That year, 1,134 black men were shot by police. Why wasn’t that enough to get these players to take a knee? It was reason enough for Kaepernick.

The second problem is that these players left Kaepernick all alone to take the heat for months, until ultimately he wasout of a job. They left him to suffer the ridicule alone. Even the other black players, who know firsthand the atrocities black Americans face on a daily basis, sat aside and let him kneel alone. He risked his livelihood for them and they let him do it all alone.

Prominent black former NFL athletes Michael Vick and Ray Lewis even condemned Kaepernick for his protest.

The common argument is that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to those currently in the armed forces and military veterans. But if people were informed, they’d actually know that many of the things involving the flag, that we’ve deemed common practice, are actually disrespectful, according to the U.S. Flag Code.

These rules have been in effect since June 14, 1923. According to these codes, the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. The flag also should never be used as a costume or on an athletic uniform, and the flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner.

So put down your Fourth of July flag napkins, paper plates and printed bikinis, your American flag adorned football helmets, and your flag printed Budweiser cans. You’re disrespecting our flag.

Kaepernick now has to sit home and watch former teammates and opponents do exactly what he did over a year ago. He has to sit and watch as they mimic his year-old protest and keep their jobs.

The reaction of the NFL in response to Trump seemed like nothing more than a publicity induced dare by the president. And the participants fell for his trap. These protests should have happened long ago, for the right reasons. Don’t rewrite Kaepernick’s narrative. Take the knee, but take it for the right reasons.

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1 comment:

  • Acaustik posted at 8:19 am on Wed, Oct 4, 2017.

    Acaustik Posts: 2

    I wish I were a multi-millionaire football star so I could make things up to complain about as well, would be nice. The only systems that hinder these spoiled players are their own concussion rattled minds, they are so far gone they actually think

     
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