It’s hard to log onto Twitter and not see the #TakeAKnee hashtag all over your timeline. Confused about what it all means? Let’s dive into the conversation that has taken over social media and has President Trump’s eye.
It’s been almost a year since Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, kneeled during the national anthem in protest to race relations in America. Since then, the drama surrounding his decision to not participate in this American tradition hasn’t died down.
Many in the media have taken to this story and conservative commentators see it as an act of disrespect toward military veterans. Fox News blabbermouth, Tomi Lahren, called Kaepernick a “crybaby” for using his first amendment right of free speech to kneel during the anthem. The same right Lahren used in criticizing Kaepernick. President Trump recommended NFL coaches to fire any “sons of bitches” who don’t stand during the anthem.
But what Lahren, her fellow Fox News cohorts and our own President don’t understand is the core reason #TakeAKnee is happening in the first place.
It has nothing to do with veterans. It has nothing to do with Trump. And it has nothing to do with the national anthem. It has everything to do with ending police brutality and racial injustices.
We are living in a time of great racial divide in our country. Police brutality is seen too often on the 24-hour news cycle and our own President has been known to say incredibly demeaning comments toward minorities. Calling Mexicans rapists, black people thugs and trying to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. Kapernick simply exercised his right to a peaceful protest in kneeling against racial injustices – not Trump – but what he represents.
While Kapernick was the first NFL player to bend the knee during the anthem, he has been joined by a select few of his fellow NFL players. But fans aren’t having it – many can be heard booing players who are kneeling and some have even gone so far as to boycott NFL games if they continue to protest standing during the national anthem.
But protesting the national anthem isn’t a new idea for black athletes. The New York Times did an amazing article detailing the history of National Anthem Protests by Black Athletes. Featured in the article is the story of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics who gave the closed fist as the national anthem played. Also mentioned is the incident in 1996 where the National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for his refusal to stand during the national anthem. I encourage you to check out the whole article to get more information about the topic.
Also by the Times: An in-depth look at what every NFL team did during the National Anthem. This is updated every Sunday –so bookmark it to check back in on the influence Kapernick has made in his profession.
Overall, it’s important for us to remember at the end of the day America isn’t an inclusive place for all of it’s inhabitants.
Maybe America is an amazing country if you’ve never had to face systematic racism or oppression – like, let’s say a straight, white, wealthy business man from New York who would soon become the President.
But for those who don’t fit that description, America can be a place where a mother of a black teenager doesn’t know if he will be shot at a routine traffic stop or racially profiled walking home with a pack of skittles in his black hoodie in Florida.
Majority populations in America – aka white people– need to be especially understanding of the issues that don’t directly affect them because those are the ones that get the least attention.
In order for an issue that affects a minority population to garner attention – it needs to make the majority population uncomfortable enough to take action and notice. And I think almost everyone has their eye on who the next athlete will be to #TakeAKnee.