Standing by the Knee or Standing by the Anthem
The national anthem is not only an important song that symbolizes the hardships and battles that freedom cost the United States, it is also an important part of American sports specifically the NFL. At the moment the media is hot and heavy on a trend that breaks tradition from the national anthem, some star players have started to kneel during the anthem. This has caused a lot of controversy as even President Trump has disapproved of this, with so much negative feedback there has to be an overarching cause. While many who disapprove believe that the kneelers are disrespecting the nation, Kneeling actually symbolizes the current oppression that African Americans are facing in this country, to kneel during the anthem is to accept these facts of our country.
Who was the first to kneel during the anthem? Where did it all start? The now famous NFL player, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49er’s began the movement on August 14 of 2016 -- but he wasn’t kneeling but sitting down. Kaepernick went unnoticed the first two games of the season, he wasn’t in uniform those games so there was little for anyone to say on the matter. On his third day he kneeled and it wasn’t till after the game when a picture of the anthem was tweeted and the 49er’s had confirmation that Kaepernick had kneeled. Kaepernick's protest was peaceful and was even stronger due to his popularity as a player. After a while, another player joined the founder to initialize the movement. Kaepernick’s actions can help others gain insight on his thoughts previous to the movement. Due to the nature of an National Anthem, americans are expected to stand proud for the country that our anthem represents, but to stand proud means that they are content with the country and accept it for what it is. Take kneeling on the other hand, it can show a sign of respect but also a sign of accepted inferiority, Kaepernick thinks that kneeling would show everyone that people of his color are still seen as inferior to the majority of the country.
Fellow friend and teammate Eric Reid, is one of the many players who’ve decided to act alongside Kaepernick. In an article for the New York TImes, Reid stated that they are speaking for the voiceless, “I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy”. Reid’s statement can be hard to understand but once it is break down , there is a lot of merit to the statement. A flag at half mast can symbolize many things such as respect, salutation and mourning. This is meant to honor the lives of African americans who were shot and killed by police who went to drastic measures to subdue them. Reid and Kaepernick’s movements had become a real organized protest that would lead to an even greater gathering of players to support the cause. The fact that so many people have joined the cause proves that they acknowledge the oppression that many black americans are facing right now.
Many people were outraged at the players for their act and the NFL for allowing it to happen, even Donald Trump had something to say about it and took to Twitter, shaming Kaepernick for his so called lack of patriotism. Reid and Kaepernick were fairly frustrated by the portrayal many people had on the protest, saying that their act was disrespectful to their military and country. Reid explains that he feels that the knee is not meant to disrespect America's troops but still honors the freedom that the country's soldiers have fought for. The statement shows the drive Reid has to make people see the reality of the subject that the nation is in a state of inequality, using passive techniques that help convey a message in a positive format.
African Americans have been a victim of systematic oppression since their freedom back in the 1800’s and yet people must still fight to rid of that same oppression today. The act of kneeling has been used by many NFL players, to publicise their opinion on the subject. This matters not only to sports fans, but to the whole nation because everyone is affected by the passing of people, especially when these deaths heavily imply that the lives of African Americans are not as valuable as others in the eyes of police. The blue on black crimes that happen so frequently, should be important to everyone due to the fact that people’s lives are at stake. Players have received backlash but the important thing to note is that there has been a powerful impact. Many star players have begun to replicate the work of Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid hoping to spread their influences and ideology even further.
Reid, Eric. “Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knee.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/opinion/colin-kaepernick-football-protests.html.
Sandritter, Mark. “All the Athletes Who Joined Kaepernick's National Anthem Protest.”SBNation.com, SBNation.com, 11 Sept. 2016, www.sbnation.com/2016/9/11/12869726/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protest-seahawks-brandon-marshall-nfl.
Garber, Megan. “They Took a Knee.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 Sept. 2017, www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/09/why-the-nfl-is-protesting/540927/.