Donald Trump and Colin Kaepernick
The Power of Symbols
Man has always used symbols to represent things. Even the early cavemen used symbols to represent their subjects and topics. Symbols were used to tell stories and record history. However, symbols don’t always mean the same things to everybody. The cave painting below can be interpreted many ways, but the originator knew what it meant.
Interpretation of Symbols
Symbols, such as flags and gestures, can be interpreted to mean different things to different people depending on their values and belief systems. The Nazi swastika and the gesture of raising one’s arm in salute to Hitler were signs of unity and allegiance to Hitler and the Nazi party, but to his enemies, they meant something very sinister and evil.
Gestures as Symbols
The act of lowering one’s knee to the ground is a gesture of respect and worship when passing the blessed sacrament in the Catholic church. It was used in both the past and present during knightings as a means of showing reverence to a monarch. However, in sporting events, while the Pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem are playing, it can be considered by some as a sign of disrespect to the flag, the National Anthem, and the country.
Last year, Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the playing of the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. Kaepernick said he did it to protest the injustices dealt to Black people by law enforcement and the criminal justice system. There are many who have said that a national sporting event is not the place to protest. This raises the question: where is a good place to protest the injustices perpetrated against Black people? This was a peaceful protest and it reached millions of people. The problem is that this protest's true intent was lost in all the chatter about why he protested and how he should be punished for protesting.
Donald Trump has stated that Kaepernick's protest is not about race, but it is an act of disrespect towards the flag, the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, the military, and the country. Trump suggested that the owners of NFL teams should fire the "SOB’s" who participate in the protests. Many people think that because football players earn so much money, they should just be quiet, not protest, and be thankful that they are earning megabucks for what they do.
Trump Changes the Narrative
Trump has changed the narrative surrounding Kaepernick's protest. Rather than acknowledge that it's a protest against racial injustice, Trump says it is about showing a lack of respect for the flag, the country, and those who served in the military. Currently the NFL players, coaches, and owners have all come together to support this protest. Trump doesn’t acknowledge that most of the players on NFL teams are Black. The word “team” here is very important. Trump, by his very nature is a divide-and-conquer type of person. He is not a team player. He did it with GOP candidates, the intelligence community, and now he is dividing the country into two camps, those who think this protest is about disrespect of the country and those who think it is about racial injustice.
In typical Trump style, he will stick to his interpretation of the protest and continue creating tweet storms, even though his interpretation of the protest is false. There is no telling what his real motivation is for doing this. It could all be a big distraction to take the focus off of health care, tax reform, North Korea, and/or the Russian investigation.
It's okay for some people to pay reverence and praise to the confederate stars and bars and to Robert E, Lee who was a traitor and a slave owner. It's okay for Trump to place the blame of white supremacist's riots and actions in Charlotesville on both sides, but for some reason, Trump thinks that athletes who participate in Kaepernick's nonviolent protest by taking a knee are problematic.
Stakeholder's Analysis Summary
Let's look at who the stakeholders are in terms of rights, responsibilities, deficits, and benefits.
Trump has the right to say whatever he thinks the reason is for Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel at football games. He also has a responsibility to tell the truth based on why Colin said he was kneeling. The harmful results of Trump sharing his opinion are the division of the country and its people into an us versus them mentality. The benefit for Trump is that he is playing to his base and gaining their support without understanding what the real issue is about.
Kaepernick has the right to peacefully kneel in protest of injustice towards Black people. He also has the responsibility to promote why he was kneeling, so that it is not open to interpretation. The fact is that Kaepernick began protesting in this manner over a year ago and his reasoning was not properly presented, explained, or understood until recently. Trump revived the issue when he played to his base's feelings. The benefit of this whole situation is that it does make people aware of the injustices that plague Black communities.