Lakeita a social activist early on. He
LakeitaHudsonJaclynHardingEnglishComposition 121November 2017Kneeling for the Anthem Colin Kaepernick, who is a bi-racialman grew up relatively privileged, but felt he was disconnected from his ethnicbackground. In college Kaepernick joined an all-black fraternity, and was asocial activist early on. He became aware of the many challenges that AfricanAmerican men had to endure while in college. When police violence againstAfrican American males became spiraling out of control, Kaepernick decided hewas going to protest by sitting on the bench on the sideline, until one dayafter a discussion with a veteran they both concluded that instead on sittingduring the National Anthem, Kaepernick would kneel. Many of the fans where notpleased with the kneeling. He was not signed for the 2017-2018 season.
President Trump went on live television and cursed all the protesters, anddemanded the NFL to fire any player that refused to stand for the NationalAnthem. The NFL League stated they would not fire any player who engaged in apeaceful sideline protest. Many Americans feel that the playersare disrespecting the military. However, I feel that Kaepernick decided tokneel to protest social injustice experienced by the African Americans. Theprotest had nothing to do with how he felt about the military. To understandthe purpose of the protest, one must understand the issues leading up to theprotest.
NFL fans have never thought to boycott the league prior to this despiteactive players being convicted of crimes such as: drug possessions, domesticviolence, and murder, but we continue to watch and attend the games faithfully.Kaepernick’s protest is being represented as impertinent, even though kneelinghas been a sign of respect for many years. I believe the backlash has more todo with what he is protesting rather than how he is protesting.
The fact his protestis being portrayed as being disrespectful, even though kneeling has been a signof respect for a very long time. I believe it is not fair for him to not beable to play the sport he loves, all because he is exercising his 1stamendment right. Although many people have reframedKaepernick’s protest, he has been very vocal about why he is protesting.
Hefelt uneasy about the social injustices in the Unites States, particularlyabout the African Americans, and how they are targets of police brutality. Thepolice who harm or kill them are almost never punished. He decided to use hiscelebrity platform to bring attention to this issue: “I am not going to standup to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and peopleof color,” Kaepernick told NFL media after the game. “To me, this is biggerthan football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. Thereare bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away withmurder” (Wyche 2016). Kaepernick was not the first athleteto bring attention to this issue. It has been well-documented that AfricanAmericans have been provided an opportunity to succeed that have often outpacedsociety.
Its been a long-standing tradition for African American athletes touse their platforms to speak out about social justice. Muhammed Ali would oftenspeak about civil rights and was often criticized, because he was an activist.Back in 1968 at the Olympics, John Carlos and Tommie Smith made internationalheadlines for a black power salute while receiving their medals.
In 1970, agroup of African American players from Syracuse University, known as theSyracuse 8 used their platform to protest discrimination at their school(Hatendi 2016). NBA players Derrick Rose and LeBron James have worn t-shirtswith “I can’t breathe” on them to bring attention to the police killing of EricGarner, a black man who was selling illegal cigarettes and who said, “I can’tBreathe” just before dying at the hands of the officers (Hatendi 2016). CarmeloAnthony who plays for OklahomaCity Thunder basketball team, was the leader of a Black Lives Matter protestheld in New York, and then used the ESPY’s to call upon all black athletes tobecome politically active. The entire Miami Heat basketball team dressed inhoodies and took a picture to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin by GeorgeZimmerman, who was found not guilty of his murder, despite the victim was anunarmed African American adolescent walking home from the store. While the listabove is incomplete, I am demonstrating that African American athletes have astanding history of using their prominent platforms to bring attention to theracial injustices in the United States. Why have those who are calling forNFL boycotts due to kneeling have not protested in the past? The NFL is knownfor employing criminals. The NFL fired Michael Vick, because he had adog-fighting ring and was torturing animals to death, but you never heard ofany mass boycotts of the NFL after he was rehired after going to prison.
Thenyou have Ray Rice, who was caught on tape beating his fiancé until she becameunconscious in an elevator. Josh Brown, who has admitted to being involved indomestic violence in serval written documents. Still, there have not been anymass boycotts of the NFL even though they have employed players who have beatand raped women. This has led me to question the motives of the people who areboycotting the NFL due to kneeling during the National Anthem.
If theboycotters were really concerned about getting respect for our Americans, itwould certainly seem that a boycott of the NFL would have come into play whenJosh Brown got to keep his job. Although Ray Rice did lose his job due todomestic violence, it was not due to a boycott. Ray Rice may not be employedwith the NFL anymore, but he is employed as a high school football coach at hisalma mater, New Rochelle High School, in New York. I think that having awell-known woman-beater and the face of domestic violence mentoring andcoaching our young men seems far more dangerous than kneeling during theNational Anthem. Taking a knee has an association insports, particularly football.
In football the players traditionally take aknee for respect and concern, or when a player is injured. But, Kaepernick’sdecision to kneel is described as disrespectful to our soldiers. The militaryhas a tradition of kneeling as well. They traditionally kneel at the funeralsof their fallen comrades. Veteran Nate Boyer had this in mind when he met withKaepernick and suggested he take a knee rather than sit as this was a sign ofrespect and concern as well. Martin Luther King Jr is one of the United Statesmost famous civil rights leader, and he is known for kneeling with other civilworkers and praying before he was jailed in Selma. Here you can see kneelingwas a symbolic gesture used throughout history, but King too like Kaepernick’sprotest were labeled as attention-seeking and disruptive.
The people who werecomfortable with the status felt it was unnecessary. In conclusion Colin Kaepernick’sdecision to kneel during the National Anthem has sparked a huge social justicemovement in the NFL. This movement has now moved to almost all professionalsports. It is no surprise that this protest is being portrayed as disrespectfulto our military. In reality, as long as we Americans continue to treat peopledifferent based on their ethnic background, we have failed to fulfill thepromises associated with the constitution. The question people should be askingis not “why did Kaepernick kneel?”, but “Why didn’t more people kneel?” Works CitedHatendi,Natasha.
“Sports & Politics: 27 Woke Athletes Who’ve Taken a Stand.” Essence. 7 September 2016. Https://www.
essence.com/celebrity/black-athletes-take-stand-protest.Accessed 21 November 2017.Wyche,Steve. “Colin Kaepernick Explains Why He Sat During National Anthem.
” NFL.com, 27August 2016. Https://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000691077/article/colin-kaepernick-explains-why-he-sat-during-national-anthem.
Accessed 21 November 2017.Flaherty, Bryan. “FromKaepernick sitting to Trump’s Fiery Comments: NFL’s Anthem Protests Have SpurredDiscussion.
” The Washington Post, 24 September2017. Https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/sports/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protests-and-NFL-activism-in-quotes/?utm_term=.276f201e5e12.Accessed 21 November