Kneeling to protest injustice

Quinn McCabe, Staff Writer

African Americans are subjects of racism, victims of pervasive police brutality and expected to stand for a national anthem that demeans slaves in the third verse. And we are going to tell them that peacefully protesting their mistreatment is disrespectful? Sounds pretty ironic.

During the 2016-2017 preseason, Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem, drawing national attention. When asked what his motivation was, he alluded to the recent instances of police brutality including the deaths of Freddie Gray, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

This form of peaceful protest elicited outrage because people believed that it was disrespectful to the military and the country as a whole. But, as other players joined in with Kaepernick’s protest, they continued to make it clear that the protests were not related to the military. They reiterated their purpose of protesting, raising awareness for the oppression and unfair treatment of African Americans.

Interestingly enough, former NFL long snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, was the person that suggested to Kaepernick to kneel for the anthem. He sent Kaepernick a letter recommending he kneel rather than sit for the anthem because it was more respectful.

When people argue that kneeling is disrespecting the flag, they are forgetting that the flag is just a piece of cloth that symbolizes our values as a country. This includes freedom of speech, right to protest and equality of opportunity. When these values are not being upheld, the flag is truly just a piece of cloth: immune to disrespect.

People are calling these protesters disrespectful, but are clearly unaware of the blatant disrespect imbedded in the lyrics of the national anthem itself. The forgotten third stanza was meant to decry former slaves who were then working for the British army. One line states, “their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps pollution,” meaning that the blood of all the former slaves on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British.

How could anyone expect someone to stand for a song that demeans and insults them?

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently issued a statement requiring all his players to stand for the anthem or they would be benched, even removed from the team. A white owner forcing his African American players to silence them selves and continue clashing heads for 60 minutes? Sounds eerily similar to something that happened in the 1800’s.

The common argument that there are better ways to protest is completely invalid because every time African Americans protest it is not the right way. If they march, they block the roads. If they riot, they are called violent. If they kneel peacefully, they disrespect the country. These players have a platform to better the nation, so why are so many people against it? This country was built on the foundation of freedom of speech, and there could not be a more peaceful and effective way to negate oppression than kneeling.