Taking a Knee, Inferiority
By BRIANNA SMITH
Taking a knee : a sign of surrender or inferiority.
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the national anthem before the preseason games. Shortly after, he took a knee instead to prevent the image of an “un-American” man. As of late, many NFL players have also chosen to kneel rather than stand during the national anthem.This is a time where a lot of exposure may be received. The idea is to stand out from those standing, to peacefully protest an issue of police brutality against African Americans. However, the act has not been perceived this way to everyone.
Many people take the stance that kneeling during the anthem is “disrespectful to our country’s flag”. But, let’s go over the standards of respect for our flag. One, the flag should never touch anything beneath it. U.S. flags often touch or are displayed on football fields. Two, no part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. Teams in the NFL and other leagues often wear and sell jerseys featuring the flag. Three, the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. During many pregame national anthem ceremonies, a flag is brought out and held over the field.
These are prime examples of the NFL not complying with the flag codes for years upon years. Why is it that none of these broken rules are being ridiculed, but as soon as a black individual wants to protest their injustice, everybody goes nuts? In fact, they are referred to as “son’s of b’s” by President Trump – the same man who chose to describe white supremacists as “very fine people”. Using your first amendment right to protest peacefully should not result in being called a name by the president.
I don’t believe it was ever about the flag, but instead about silencing an issue that has been recurring, in different forms, for centuries. When blacks were enslaved, they were murdered trying to obtain freedom. When they became citizens, they were looked at like lepers for having the audacity to want voting rights. When they had the right to vote, their lives were still endangered due to lynching. Now, when they have laws passed to protect them, some of those charged with enforcing the law are just killing them. Throughout all those years, African Americans had to fight for those rights, they were never just handed over. So what makes this time different?
No efforts have been made to address this issue for what it is – racial injustice. Furthering the issue, Trump has not attempted to meet or discuss with the players taking a knee. Instead, our President has chosen to run to twitter, disrespect those protesting, and deny the issue on the grounds of patriotism. Who is more American: The man who spots corruption and is brave enough to stand against it, or the man who sees it but chooses to ignore it, becoming a part of the problem himself?
When They Kneel
by Chandler Lucas
I must say, I give Colin Kaepernick a lot of credit for doing what he did a year ago. In a preseason game last year on August 14, Colin Kaepernick did the unthinkable: he sat down during the playing of the National Anthem.
For the first two weeks of the preseason, Kaepernick’s protest went unnoticed. It was not until August 26th that Kaepernick finally gained the national attention he had been looking for. Two days after the event, Kaepernick sent out a statement to the media saying that he “wanted to give the voiceless a voice to be heard.” He wanted to give power to the weak in order for this country to be unified, and for the oppressed to be heard. He did it to start conversation. He did it to start change. He did it to start unity. Unfortunately, Kaepernick did not start any of those things, he started a war. And it is a war that does not seem to end anytime soon.
In the statement he gave to the media, Kaepernick stated; “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Alright, cool, I can give him that argument: Racism – and many other kinds of prejudice – is still very much alive in this country. No one can deny this. So the one thing I will give Kap is that he has a good reason to be upset. But with that, this is where Kaepernick messed up.
Colin Kaepernick, out of all the possible ways for him to get his message out, picked probably the most unethical one. Everything about this protest is controversial and untimely, except for the argument. Racism is a very serious issue, and there is absolutely no room in this country for it. But if you want to try and take down such a controversial issue, you do not kneel for and disrespect the one piece of cloth that gives you all the power you need. That silly old piece of cloth happens to be the American flag, you know, the ONE THING that gives Kaepernick his 1st Amendment right to peacefully protest and speak freely. The reason why people were so offended about his movement is because the platform was poor beyond words. I agree 100% that Kap should use his fame and fortune to create change. I think all athletes in some way should use their impact on young ones to spark conversation that inspire change. With all the issues in this country that have been amplified solely based on race, that is the best time for famous athletes all over to step in and say; “This is wrong.” THAT is when the argument becomes the most credible and the least divisive. THAT is when movements should take place. Not on the sidelines at a football game.
But with all that, this is where it gets interesting. Colin Kaepernick, along with every person that supports his protest, has stated time and time again that his protest is not a lash at the armed services. Contradictingly enough, he has had family members and close friends who have fought and served our country. For me personally, this is where the protest itself becomes a joke. No matter what Kap and every other protester says, it is perceived that when they kneel, they are discrediting everything the flag represents. They are indirectly saying that they simply do not care about the policemen that keep us safe and the men and women that have served our country.
“But Chandler, Kaepernick has said a million times that it is not about the flag or the military,” you might say. As a matter of fact, that has become the backbone of Kaepernick’s protest to everyone that has supported it. Well, fittingly enough, that statement is awfully contradictory.
According to the official website of the United States Flag, the red stripes symbolize “hardiness and valor”. According to some silly book that all of us know but never pay attention to – also known as the Dictionary – the word valor means bravery and courage. An example they gave was “specifically in battle.” To piggyback off of that, the word hardiness literally means “the ability to endure difficult conditions”. And an example that they gave was being able to survive in conditions that are not very favorable. Hmmm. Battle, unlikely conditions, courage, and bravery. Gee, I wonder who that is. Should I also mention that Kaepernick even said in his initial statements that he “refuses to stand for a flag and country that oppresses black people or people of color.” Notice the key word? Flag? So with his initial statement to the media along with recent events, not only has Kaepernick’s entire protest contradicted itself, it seems that his words have as well.
The funny part about this controversy is that even with all those facts, there are still some people that refuse to see the truth for what it is. I simply can’t comprehend how it is possible to kneel for the National Anthem and then go to the media and say it has nothing to do with the flag or the military. Most of the arguments that I have heard have said the protest is standing against police brutality. Ok cool dude, awesome! You want to try and put a stop to police brutality? Start something actually more meaningful. How about these players use their presence to step up on a platform outside of a sport to raise awareness? People pay lots of money to go and watch their favorite team play, NOT to have their teams take a political stance after they spent a lot of money trying to escape the political world.
My last question for Mr. Kaepernick and everyone else in this circus is this: How is it working out? What changes has this protest made? Throughout this past year I have yet to see the endgame in this whole process. And it is not just me; people all over the country are fed up with politics being brought into the sports they love. My dad and I listened to a podcast on NFL Radio, and some trucker called in and said out of all the hours he spent on the road, Sunday afternoons were his only time of the week to avoid politics and to just have the ability to relax and listen to his Steelers play. Well, he can’t even do that anymore. Why? Because somehow and someway political wars have made their way into the art we call football. Ratings are dropping at an alarming rate, jerseys are being burned, and no problems are being solved. If you ask me, it sure sounds like more problems are being created. From the first airing of this season’s Sunday Night Football on September 10th, the ratings have dropped over 20%. DIRECTV has offered people refunds on their “Sunday Ticket” package because people cannot bear to watch what has happened to this game, and to this country. Seems like your master plan of unity doesn’t seem to be working, Mr. Kaepernick.
Like I said before, the United States still has a very serious issue with racism and any other kind of prejudiceness. Anyone who denies this is nothing short of ignorant. But not far behind them is Colin Kaepernick and every other individual who kneels for the country’s song. From day one this has been a mess, and it still has yet to pay off. By the way, Kaep: How well does protesting pay? Throughout the entire summer of hatred that this country endured, where was Kaepernick then? If he wanted to add a credible check to his movement, why didn’t he make an appearance in Charlottesville, or at least publicly speak on the issue? When dirtbag KKK members and Neo-Nazis were the headline of every news channel, where was Kaepernick then? Being silent during one of the country’s darkest times did him absolutely zero favors. And it is not like he was playing football, because the guy currently has no job because coaches and front office executives know that he is more of a distraction than a worthy player (plus he has won a whopping total of 3 games in the previous two seasons).
The one thing that everyone can agree on at this point is that this protest has solved absolutely nothing. It has ignited conversations that need to be held. But outside of that, what good has come from this?
The sad part is there will still be people that read something like this and miss the entire point. For anyone who kneels, using the song and flag of our nation as a political platform in a GAME is wrong on so many levels. What blows me away the most is that somehow we never hear anyone talk about what happens when a man or woman serving in the military or police force dies.
When a family sends their child to the military, there is a chance that the soldier could be killed in action. When that happens, the family does not get their child back. Instead, they get a folded up FLAG (hint, hint) handed to them as their child’s casket is lowered into the ground. All that of course, comes after the casket is presented with, guess what, an American flag draped all over it. When you kneel, you might as well go stand on that soldier’s grave and spit on it. And to add the cute little cherry on top: those are men and women who actually know what real battle is like. Those men and women go to war so people like Colin Kaepernick can play the game they love and make millions of dollars doing it. But instead of recognizing that and being grateful for it, he would rather take a knee and completely disregard everything the armed forces does. No matter what he, or any other protester says, that is the bottom line. The flag is a direct salute to the armed services, and everyone should be mandated to participate in that salute. So in Kaepernick’s inspiring but complete failure of an attempt to spark change, he did the complete opposite.
At a time where this country desperately needs to take a few steps in the right direction, we have now taken about 100 gigantic leaps back. Not all, but mainly because of a highly controversial protest started by a backup Quarterback. Now, players in all sports of all age groups everywhere are kneeling as they hope that somehow they spark change. When they kneel, a big majority of their own fans no longer ride with them. When they kneel, anger and arguments come roaring out instead of conversation and unity. When they kneel, legless veterans still find a way to rise out of their wheel chairs. When they kneel, the world becomes farther and farther away from finding a conclusion. So, my only question for you is: Why are you still kneeling?