Kneeling for equality, not infamy


photo by AP

San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, on Sunday, Sept. 18.(AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Diego Sultan, Staff Reporter

Prior to the NFL preseason, kneeling was viewed as an act of respect, obedience and subservience.

San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, however, used it as an act of protest. On Aug. 26, Kaepernick sat during the playing of the national anthem, in uniform for the first time, and later explained that he was using his position to stand up for the oppressed who do not have one.

Kaepernick’s protests were in response to recent cases of police brutality against African Americans across the United States.  His actions have opened the flood gates for numerous athletes of different sports, levels and age groups to kneel, huddle or raise a fist as a medium of protest during the national anthem.  Perhaps more significantly, vocalist Denasia Lawrence knelt before an NBA preseason basketball game while singing the national anthem.   Rather than taking a much louder and possibly violent approach, Kaepernick simply did not stand for the national anthem, yet some people hate him for it.

Kaepernick’s actions are viewed as disrespectful and blasphemous, and rightfully so.  That means it’s working.  He found a method of protest that irks a portion of the American population, causing them to hate him, yet also feed into the media frenzy that gives him attention.  But this attention is completely unnecessary.  While I agree that what he does is highly offensive, it is his constitutional right to protest his beliefs in a peaceful manner.  Kaepernick does this.  He is speaking his mind and the livid responses fuel the spark that he ignited with his protest causing others to protest along with him.

I am not writing this to call for more people to kneel during the national anthem or Pledge of Allegiance.  I simply feel that if someone feels a situation is dire enough, then they have the constitutional right to protest against it.  However, kneeling for no reason or simply to be rebellious only weakens the message of those who truly want to be heard. In fact, the negative feedback is not something a lot of people will be prepared for.  The NFL’s ratings have dropped this season, and Kaepernick has received a large amount of the blame.  Despite this, if someone understands the consequences, and feels that they are faced with a severe situation worthy of this mode of protesting, they should be able to do so.

I love my country.  The ability to speak our minds, including Kaepernick’s protest, is why I love it.  The alternative to this would be ignoring the deaths of people like Philadro Castle or Freddie Gray and letting them go unquestioned.  Kaepernick realizes that he has an influential platform from being in the public eye, and there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of that.  So even if it hurts a lot of feelings when Kaepernick kneels during the National Anthem, his actions demonstrate what makes our nation great, but also that we can always improve.