Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, shocked the nation earlier in the month by taking a knee during the national anthem. His justification was that he’s doing this to protest against the oppression and unjust killings of African Americans. And while there has been an abundance of support from fellow athletes on professional and high school level, there are many outraged by Kaepernick’s act, deeming it too disrespectful and ungrateful. So let’s look at some pros and cons of kneeling during the national anthem.
- It is one of the most peaceful ways to express yourself.
After the shootings of unarmed African Americans, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore turned riots and soon became violent. While those are also valid considering the frustration among the African American community, kneeling during the national anthem does not require excessive movement, or no movement at all. It allows you to express your views on police brutality with a quiet, single motion in a one-two feet radius.
- It is an extremely profound method of protest.
The American national anthem celebrates our country as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” By kneeling during the national anthem, you are clearly using your freedom of speech, to simultaneously question whether U.S. is the home of the brave where armed police officers are shooting at unarmed men, even during the presence of their children, as seen in the Philando Castile case. To kneel during the most patriotic anthem shows the intensity of the emotions involved and how tired the public is, not just minorities, but anyone who doesn’t understand why police officers keep getting placed on paid leaves while the list of men and women becoming hashtags keeps growing.
- It makes ignorant people uncomfortable.
One of the great benefits of kneeling during the national anthem is that it sheds light upon the shifting racial attitudes in our country today. With every black person shot by police officers for reasons that could have been resolved without the use of violence, there are always those who make excuses; the “maybe he should have complied” people, if you will. These are the people who have never understood the fear of being targeted for something non-removable like the color of your skin. And when people like Kaepernick protest the obvious discrimination, they are hurt for being called out and retaliate by labeling them as “unpatriotic.” What they don’t realize is that shooting black men for their only crime being resisting arrest is unpatriotic by taking away their right to a due process. Innocent until proven guilty also applies to them and not just to cops after they murdered someone even when their body camera shows no apparent cause.
….. There are none.
The whole point of kneeling during the national anthem is not just to create drama or have irrelevant people who have never faced discrimination for the color of their skin call you names, but to make your voice heard. How many more black men and women must die before everyone in this country gets outraged that the only viable cause for their deaths was the color of their skin? It is beyond appalling the amount of people who have told Kaepernick to leave the country if he dislikes it so much, yet they remain unmoved as we add two more names to the list of those unjustly killed.
If you are someone who finds kneeling during the national anthem disrespectful but find different reasons to justify police brutality each time, then I’m afraid to let you know that you are NOT patriotic.