By: Ofonime Idiong
On August 14th, 2016, at a pre-season game, 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem, a move that had gone unnoticed until a couple pre-season games later. On August 26th Kaepernick’s silent protest was finally taken note of by sports reporters, and on August 28th he finally explained his reason for taking a knee. Kaepernick was protesting the unjust system that allowed police brutality to thrive, resulting in the numerous killings of black and brown bodies, and in turn, allowing their murderers to walk free. We are now in 2017 and this unjust system is still in place, and with the election of a new president there are concerns about what the future holds with a Trump Presidency. 2017 has not just been a year of concern due to Trump but also because Kaepernick has yet to be signed to a team for the 2017- 2018 football season.
Last Friday, President Trump at one of his rallies, called football players who choose to kneel “sons of bitches.” That Sunday game we waited to see what NFL players would do in response to this, and as expected many chose to take a knee. Because of Trump this has turned into an issue of the flag, our military and respect. The real reason Kaepernick took a knee is beginning to get lost, with multiple videos of football fans burning tickets citing disrespect to the flag, the original message is lost, so let us address it.
Kaepernick took a knee as a response to the death of multiple Black men because of police brutality. Kaepernick took a knee as a response to the treatment of black and brown bodies by a system that was never built to benefit them. Turning this into an issue of respect for the flag allows one to remain ignorant, and continue to pretend there is not a problem. Pretending like this is an issue of military respect allows one to continue to be complaisant. This county has a problem with how it treats black and brown bodies. This persistent problem shows many Black people that Black lives in America do not matter, and they do. With a history of slavery and Jim Crow laws, modern day racism in America may not be as overt as it was before. But systematic laws of oppression and a failure to deliver justice shows that these patterns of racism are just as troubling as they were in the past. Take a knee was never about disrespecting the flag. Many people are proud Americans, but being patriotic does not mean one cannot question their country. You can be a proud American and still question how black and brown bodies are treated.
People of color in our country have been silenced for too long, and until systematic racism is called out, and we are respected as citizens of America, then I stand with Kaepernick and, I too, also Take A Knee.
Edited by Jenna Caldwell