If You Think Kneeling During the Anthem is Right, Think Again
The NFL season has began with Collin Kaepernick starting a movement among sports venues across the country in kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem. The 49ers quarterback has stated "I'll stand when I feel like this country does something worth standing for."
Since Kaepernick first sat down during the anthem before a 49ers preseason game a couple of weeks ago, other players across the league have joined him, including Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos and four Miami Dolphins players on September 11th, including Arian Foster. Some other players stood during the anthem but held a fist high in the air, which historically refers to "black power". There have also been a number of photos and videos of black athletes at the college and high school level kneeling during the country's anthem. The biggest question I have is "What do you hope to gain by this?"
Now, let me preface this question by stating I understand why Kaepernick feels like he needs to do this. I'm a white male so I can't possibly understand what it's like to be black in this country, but I do see what this country has to offer people of any race or color and I also see success stories of countless black people who are professional athletes, actors, doctors, lawyers, police officers, etc. Kaepernick feels the black race is suffering from oppression in this country. Let's begin by defining oppression. The Webster Dictionary defines as the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. Over the course of the past two years, there have been several incidents of police officers using excessive force or shooting unarmed men. This indicates there is a serious problem with the training these officers receive or the protocol they are following. The problem is the reporting of these issues. The media headlines each case "White officer kills black male". Without reading any further, can you tell me who Dylan Noble is? There has been no protest and no outcry for this unarmed man shot and killed by the police. He was white. Was he oppressed? By the comparison and definition you can say yes.
There is a very evident problem in our country with certain police officers. 948 people were killed in 2015 by police. 494 of those were white and 258 were black. Nearly all of these people had felony records and a history of aggressive behavior, just like Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and Eric Garner. Did these men resist arrest? Yes, probably by the definition of resisting arrest. Did they deserve to die? Probably not. This is where the issue lies. The training and use of force of the officers in our country needs to be evaluated.
So how does a group of minority millionaire athletes kneeling during the National Anthem and claiming their race is oppressed help solve this issue? In my opinion, it doesn't. It brings attention to the issues at hand, but what's the end game for these athletes? You can kneel and refuse to recognize the country you live in that affords you the opportunity to live a life style a white middle class male like me can only dream of, but what solution are you offering? I've heard all the athletes protesting the anthem say "actions speak louder than words." This is a true statement, but what actions are you recommending we take? I agree 100% something needs to be done but I haven't heard a proposed solution from any of these athletes. I heard Doug Baldwin on Mike and Mike talking about where they go from here and he danced around the answer saying "we are gathering all the information and we will put a plan in place." What does that even mean? The fear I have is many of these guys are doing this to follow suit and are losing focus or don't even fully understand why they are doing it in the first place.
Allow me to explain what these actions are doing. They are continuing to separate our country and create a larger divide. Isn't this what they are trying to fight against? I've yet to see one white athlete kneel. Now we have the portrayal to the general public that it's us vs. them, black vs. white. A few teams, like the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs chose to unite and stand together, black and white and promote unity. This is what we need as a country. Not a few black athletes kneeling and half the country calling them thugs for not respecting the flag and our country. This is the problem I have with many white people. None of these guys who are protesting are thugs. They are college educated, well spoken human beings who believe they are doing the right thing. It's a pipe dream to ever think racism will completely go away in this country, but we need to stand together and lose the hate and bitterness if we hope to at least move forward as a society. You will notice during this article I did not use the term African-American, because I don't believe in this term. I hate using the term "black person". Regardless of what color you are, if you were born in this country or you've gone through the proper protocol to become a citizen of this country, you are an American. I don't refer to myself as an Irish-American because my grandparents were from Ireland, and I surely never see that as an option on applications I fill out. We need to stop treating ourselves and others differently and referring to people differently.
The media has successfully created a divide in our country all in the greedy pursuit of clicks and ratings. We need to be smarter than this and not fall for the manipulative advertising they use to tell us how we should feel and act. Let's stand together as one regardless of skin color. Let's not segregate ourselves or each other. Our country has it's share of problems, but it affords all of us, regardless of race, better opportunities than we can get anywhere else in the world and we all have the ability to be whatever we want to be. Let's all stand together and create solutions to the problems we have in this country and avoid the separation tactics. If we start doing those things, our country will thrive and become better than ever!