Go Ahead, Take Your Knee

Go Ahead, Take Your Knee

They are using their own influence and platform to spread peaceful dissent.
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In August 2016, Colin Kaepernick sat (instead of standing) for the American national anthem and sparked a series of protests against racial inequality and the current state of the country that are continuing today in more force than ever before as more and more teams and players choose to kneel. In not standing, Kaepernick - and now other NFL players - are labelled "disrespectful" and "unpatriotic" since the military is fighting - and has fought - for that flag, and everyone is offended that these people are choosing to disagree.

But. First of all, how does the military fight for a flag? Or for a song? Is it because both of these are symbols of America and represent America itself? Okay, I follow that - but is it not a thoroughly American belief, so much so that it is written in the Constitution, for citizens to have the right to peacefully protest? To make a point in any way they choose to do so, as long as it does not hurt anyone else? And would one not argue that they are fighting more for these freedoms provided for Americans than for a flag or a song?

After riots in Berkeley, Ferguson, Charlottesville, and several other places across America, you'd think people would rejoice at a peaceful protest at current race relations. You'd think people would be pleased and clap that these athletes are using the stage that we have given them - yes, believe it or not, we have given them this stage through our deification of athletics and this is now their platform to express themselves, just as musicians have music and talk show hosts have television. But they're not. Why? Because America does not want anyone to protest at all.

This IS a race-related protest, and kneeling for the national anthem - which we have established is seen as a symbol of America - was chosen as the scene of protest because of its audience, its peacefulness and its effectiveness. By avoiding a show of respect towards the national anthem/America (not DISRESPECTING the national anthem - nobody is mocking it; nobody is spitting on a flag), the message is clearly one of displeasure with America's current state.

As people have a right to feel - this is also an inherently American value, the right to disagree peacefully and express this disagreement. Racism is very much alive and real in America, and the current governmental organization has only aggravated the situation by defending Nazis and stereotyping minorities. Kneeling during the anthem is a way of showing it, since talking about it very clearly doesn't do anything.

Yet even now there is a problem. People are offended for other people -- in watching several news outlets (of varying places on the political spectrum, including some right-wing sources) and browsing social media, I am seeing a lot of people being offended FOR veterans, whether it is their children, their spouse, their parents or just the group in general. But honestly, I have seen very few veterans being offended. And I have seen very little criticism of those who have chosen TO stand for the anthem; the hate appears to go one way.

But again, why is it surprising that the elitists, the white people who cannot even acknowledge their own privilege, are the ones crying about disrespect? The ones crying about antipatriotism because someone is exercising their American democratic right to express dissension with the malfunctioning current regime? It is seemingly threatening for another group to ask for equality -- because, when you are so used to privilege, equality seems like oppression. When one child always receives the better choice of candy, and receives more of it, equalizing treatment and distribution of resources will make the first child feel cheated and hated. Yet how else do you achieve equality and, thus, hopefully an end to racism?

And, for the record, the NFL is a perfectly good place to protest peacefully. "Their job is to play football, not make a statement", people say. If that was true, then, why are players expected to make a statement of respect by standing for the national anthem? Why are players expected to do community service projects, like NFL Cares, and why do people expect professional athletes to be "good role models"? Oh, wait. Because they have power, have influence over the youth (aka, the future) and because they have an audience, right? And they need to use those things to better their community?

That is what they are doing. They are calling awareness to the inequality in our country that everyone seems so determined to ignore via heads in the sand, or, at the very least, they are showing that the current government does not deserve their respect -- a sentiment that is also thrown at every single presidential government ever, especially the Obama one (yet also seems much more justifiable when thrown at Trump, considered even specifically within the context of protests. Charlottesville took him days to condemn, and even then, he defended the violent Nazis -- these NFL protests were condemned immediately, despite their nonviolence). They are using their stage, their influence and their audience to peacefully make a statement of a lack of respect - not disrespect - which, arguably, could be the most patriotic of all; these players are exercising their American rights, whereas the critics are calling for them (freedom of expression - 1st amendment) to be silenced. Who's the True American Patriot now?

Cover Image Credit: Defense.gov

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.

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I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

This is not alright.

Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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