Taking A Knee

Katie Bessasparis, Opinions Editor

Colin Kaepernick gained both positive and negative attention when he took a knee during the national anthem to protest oppression of people of color, the criminal justice system, and police brutality. Colin Kaepernick taking a knee brings awareness about the reality of what is going on in this country to people who may be unaware. Taking a knee not only brings awareness to the situation, but also shows support to people of color that are being oppressed.

Americans are given the right to protest as stated in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Protesting is a basic freedom, and if taking a knee is how Kaepernick wants to protest, then he should.

The criminal justice system is evidently corrupt. According to the Washington Post, “black people make up about thirteen percent of the U.S. population but comprise twenty-four percent of those killed by police. This makes blacks two and a half times more likely to be shot by police. Forty percent of those who are incarcerated are black…People of color face longer sentences than their white counterparts for similar crimes…People of color are more likely to be searched at a traffic stop than white people.”

This is a problem, this is discrimination, and something needs to be done to bring awareness and put an end to this.

In an exclusive interview with NFL media, Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…This is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder…This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed….If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Kaepernick is doing a positive thing by bringing awareness to people about the injustices that are going on in this country. If a knee is not taken and if we do not publicly talk about the injustices, then how are we supposed to fix them? If something is not done to provoke change, then it will become worse and dangerous for many. This country has been unjust and flawed for several years and these issues need to be addressed in order for change to be made. Yasmine Khan, a senior at BHS said, I don’t think it is  disrespectful to take a knee, especially with the injustices that have been going on in this country, they are standing up for what they believe in.”

Many people would argue that taking a knee is disrespecting the flag, such as Donald Trump, our nation’s leader. At a rally for republican senator, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that [expletive] off the field right now’?”

A Green Beret and father of an Army officer who served in Afghanistan, Michael Sands posted, “Want to respect the American flag? Then respect the ideals for which it stands. Bullying language and calling peaceful protesters [expletive] who should be fired aren’t among them.”

Perhaps Donald Trump is ignorant to this due to the fact that it has not been a problem to him personally. As an affluent white male, he cannot relate to those who are facing discrimination. He needs to understand that people will not stand for a flag that oppresses people of color, which is happening all over the country. America is a country that stands for freedom, liberty, and justice for all, which is not happening. There is no justice for all.

When the country represents people the way it is supposed to, then I will stand.” Kaepernick said in an interview with Steve Wyche.

Some would say that he is insulting those who have fought and made sacrifices for our country. Kaepernick told the press, “I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone.”

In an interview with Business Insider, Tom Baker, a Navy veteran said “Colin exercised his right to protest, which is something that I feel like we all swore an oath to defend.”

Former Seahawks player and Green Beret, Nate Boyer wrote an open letter to Kaepernick to better understand why he was protesting. Nate Boyer felt that taking a knee was more respectful than sitting. “We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates,” Boyer says. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security.” As it is more respectful to take a knee, Kaepernick respected what Boyer said and took his advice.

Kaepernick is using his platform to effect change for people who are suffering and don’t have the same platform. Many others have educated themselves on why he is doing this and joined him in the protest, such as other NFL players and other athletes. People need to open their eyes and see that there is a problem going on, and change needs to be made in order for there to be justice for all.