What Athletes Are Protesting By Kneeling In 2020
Start writing a post
Currently

Athletes Are Kneeling Again, Here Are 5 Ways We Can Respond Better Than We Did In 2016

Protests during the national anthem are being widely revived, but we need to do better in how we respond to them this go-round.

5309
Athletes Are Kneeling Again, Here Are 5 Ways We Can Respond Better Than We Did In 2016

As live sports are returning in America amidst a pandemic and a renewed fire for social change, athletes across the American sports spectrum are amplifying their voices in different ways. Nevertheless, kneeling during the playing of the national anthem is set to be the most popular form of protest throughout the, at least, the NBA and NFL, and has also made an appearance this summer at Major League Baseball contests and some NASCAR races.

This form of protest, initiated by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, was widely criticized at its conception and is still demonized by some as "disrespectful" to this day. However, since these protests are intended to raise awareness for admirable causes, here are five ways we as a country can better respond in 2020 than we did four years ago.

Recognize athletes as American citizens that have First Amendment rights.

I hope I don't have to take forever to explain this, but we have to remember that most athletes are, in fact, American citizens, and therefore "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," (the First Amendment) applies to them as well.

In the case of National Football League players, their league does not mandate standing for the anthem (other sports association rules, like those for the NBA, do). So if the governing document allows for protest, and players in some leagues are allowed to do the same, what makes kneeling during the anthem so problematic? Hopefully, we can all see that athletes are citizens exercising a basic American right.

Correctly identify what is being protested.

Back in 2016, some people wondered what exactly was being protested when players — particularly NFL players — were taking a knee. Was it racism? Was it the flag? The military? Four years later, no one has an excuse for being unclear as to the protests' target: police brutality against African Americans. It's that simple.

Kaepernick, then a member of the San Francisco 49ers, explicitly stated this back then, saying,

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color...there are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Protests are not about disdain for the flag or the country, but rather a desire to see a better country for all who call it home.

Remember that the United States was born out of protest.

Protests by varying methods have been a fundamental part of our country since its eighteenth-century conception. Two organizations, the Sons of Liberty and Daughters of Liberty, were founded in 1765 to combat suppressive acts passed by British Parliament via boycott. Protests of a British rule turned violent in 1768 when rioters took to the streets of Boston to protest Britain's capturing of a ship owned by John Hancock, and they turned violent again when Americans harassed British troops which resulted in the Boston Massacre.

Contrast those protests, absolutely warranted, to today's protests at sporting events. A major difference is that these are not turning violent and two of the aforementioned did. So if the country was literally born out of protest of oppression (one that went the distance and turned into a war), what is so wrong with the same protest of oppression nearly four hundred years? While some consider taking a knee in protest disrespectful, it's actually one of the more respectful and peaceful forms of protest our country has ever witnessed.

Ignore the President.

Perhaps a monumental reason Kaepernick's intended message did not resonate effectively was due to the efforts of President Donald Trump to skew it as if the quarterback meant to disrespect the military and the flag. So, let's make it clear once again: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color." The reason the former 49er took a stand by taking a knee was to raise awareness of the systemic injustices that people of color have had to endure for on this continent for well over four hundred years.

The president has weighed in again on the protests, tweeting on July 21,

"Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!"

If this is just his opinion, then all is well. Nevertheless, as someone who holds such a high office, he should not be allowed to misrepresent a person's message, as he has done since 2016. What has, and is still, transpiring is that the President does not seem to grasp the fact that the players are kneeling in protest, not for the hell of it, which would be disrespectful, rendering him either uninformed or willfully ignorant.

So if the president is either uninformed or willfully ignorant on this topic, why listen to him and let him muddle the message yet again four years later?

Let's talk about the real issue at hand.

The most important step in a protesting society is bringing about the necessary change and this change starts when we talk about the real issue: systemic racism and social injustice. The first three steps give such a conversation a framework: the protesting athletes, by and large, are American citizens that have been wronged in one way or another and are exercising a Constitutional right of protest. These protests are because of social injustices, not the flag or the military. Protesting is not anti-American, but rather American at its core.

Let's talk about those things, not the National Anthem. Let's focus on the beauty of the country and that it allows for such demonstrations while simultaneously realizing that there are grievous things that need to change. Lastly, let's ignore those that are misinformed and sow misrepresentation of the topic at hand, including those who hold high office in our country. If we, as a society, can do these things, we would be responding better now than we did in 2016. Love your country or leave it is not the way America has ever done things.

Love your country, and change it for the better!


Report this Content
Currently

Biden's Inauguration Signals A Time Of Healing After A Dark And Painful Period

Joe Biden's inauguration marks the beginning of a time of healing for America.

6734

The day finally arrived. Joe Biden has been inaugurated and is now the 46th president of the United States of America. Kamala Harris has been sworn in as our country's new vice president. She is the first woman and the first person of color to fill the role. After years of fighting, frustration, and fear, this is a day of celebration. It's a day of hope as we look to the future. It's also a day of healing, as our collective wounds are still very fresh.

Keep Reading... Show less
Currently

Victory For LGBTQ Americans As The US Gains 6 New LGBTQ Government Representatives

Regardless of who is president, let's celebrate these huge victories for LGBTQ representation in various states' governments.

6187

The presidential election was extremely stressful for us all, causing us to worry about who will win and what it means for the future. For many of us, this can mean the difference between life and death, especially for BIPOC and members of the LGBTQ communities who are at the mercy of homophobes and racists — many of whom are proud supporters of the color orange.

Instead of worrying whether I'll be sent to a conversion camp next year or not, I'd rather celebrate the much bigger and more important wins. There have been six representatives added to state governments this past election who are all a part of the LGBTQ community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Currently

Who Said It — Donald Trump Or A Villain From The Avatar Universe?

A hilarious and frightening game of who said it: Donald J. Trump or a villain from "Avatar: The Last Airbender" or "The Legend of Korra."

6584
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons; Nickelodeon

Have fun guessing whether outgoing President of the United States Donald J. Trump or a literal anime villain said each of these 26 quotes. To keep the answers a surprise (not being able to see the answer right below the quote), I will have all of the answers at the bottom of the page.

Keep Reading... Show less
Currently

Scotland Is The First Country To Make Menstrual Products Free, And The Rest Of The World Should Follow

The idea that they are a "luxury" that should be paid for (and taxed) is absurd because nobody chooses to have a period.

5285

Scotland recently became the first country in the world to make menstrual products free to anyone that needs them, and the rest of the world needs to follow their lead. It is honestly sad that in the year 2020, there is only one nation that has passed a law to make period products free. The idea that they are a "luxury" that should be paid for (and taxed) is absurd because nobody chooses to have a period. It should not be seen as a luxury to have access to products that are a basic necessity.

Keep Reading... Show less
Currently

Candace Owens' Backwards Ideas Are Causing Damage, Not Harry Styles Wearing A Dress

Candace Owens thinks men wearing dresses are damaging to civilization, but it's her ideas that are the problem.

5734

Androgyny is something that has always been part of culture. Since the beginning of time, gender expression has always been varied and expansive. However, as time went on, society forced particular roles onto certain genders. These sorts of gender roles have caused many to rebel against them, including artists and rock stars. Harry Styles seems to be the next one in line to rebel in this way.

Keep Reading... Show less
Currently

​If You Have An Issue With Harry Styles Wearing A Dress, This Is For You

Harry Styles, the first male to appear solo on the cover of Vogue in American history should be something celebrated, not denounced.

2724

Harry Styles has consistently been catapulted into stardom for countless reasons such as, but not limited to: being an amazing artist and an all-around phenomenal human to admire. Renowned for leading his platform through kindness, acceptance, love, and self-expression. It is not a secret to anyone that follows Harry Styles that he upholds an eccentric sense of fashion. Harry Styles is a mogul for shifting the traditional gender fashion roles towards a more gender-neutral normative fashion. He leads this by rocking whatever fashion he wishes to express himself in and extending the same acceptance and kindness to others.

Keep Reading... Show less
Currently

Native Americans Might Have Been The Key To Turning Arizona Blue

Voter turnout hit records in this year's election, and it may have been the secret weapon for the Democrats.

2863

The 2020 general election brought in more participants and voters than ever before, and in Arizona, an important chunk of the registered voter turnout was the Native community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments