To stand, to kneel, to teach
Many students and NFL players are following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick who has chosen to kneel during the national anthem before football games. This should speak loudly to the fact that people are in need of an outlet for their frustrations with our society and the areas of our country in which justice is lacking. Though frustrations isn’t even close to being a strong enough word.
There are so many injustices people are battling each and every day and racial injustice is most definitely a big one. People are being shot and killed and so much of this is coming from a place of fear. I do not fear that my two white sons will be shot and killed should they ever find themselves in close proximity to a police officer. I do not fear that my children will be frisked or searched or watched if they are standing with a group waiting for a bus. This IS happening with young black men. This is something their mothers fear.
I wish with all my heart and soul that all humans were treated equally. It hurts. It hurts to think about these things. Why does a black man have to consider the clothing they wear before they walk down the street? Racial profiling should not exist. Judges should not be saying they are doing a black person a favor by putting them in jail and white people should not be placed on probation for the very same crimes! It’s not just African Americans being profiles, Hispanics struggle, Native Americans, as well as Middle Eastern. No legislator should ever say the words “black parents need to teach their children to respect police.” And black parents shouldn’t have to have discussions with their babies on how to “survive police encounters” due to the excessive amounts of police violence happening.
Does any of this have anything to do with the national anthem? Are we not the land of the free and the home of the brave? Maybe. Maybe not.
For me, when I hear the national anthem I think of the many battles heroic service men and women have fought in order to keep our country free and safe. To me standing for the national anthem is something which makes me feel good, I’m showing support for my country, I’m showing support for the many people who have fought for the freedoms we have. The injustices which exist in other parts of the world are so horrific every single day with countless people dying and no one ever knowing their name. People fleeing their country as bombs are falling and bullets are flying just outside their doors. When I stand to the national anthem those are the thoughts I have and those are the feelings I have, this is an emotional thing for me.
For Colin Kaepernick it means something different. When he chooses not to stand it makes me sad because I see him dividing himself from his team and I see him choosing not to stand in respect of those who have died to serve our country. But that is NOT why he has chosen to kneel. He isn’t purposefully deciding to be disrespectful at all, that was not the catalyst and when you think about it, the people who have fought and are fighting for our country are also fighting for our right to the very liberty of being able to choose to kneel, stand, sit, do the chicken dance, right? For Colin Kaepernick, I believe he is choosing to kneel because it has gotten attention and when people ask why he isn’t standing he gets an opportunity for dialogue. He gets a chance to speak about racial injustices and be a voice for an issues which is very real and very hard to talk about. Do I feel he could travel to colleges and schools and churches and talk about this via other platforms which might be more effective, yes? Why? Because the people he needs to reach with his message are not just the oppressed.
Whether he cares to or not, he needs to be able to reach the population of people who are furious with him for not standing during the anthem, because I believe it is likely that many of them “do not get it.” Often times they are the people who need to hear a different perspective, they need to see through different eyes. But as soon as you kneel during the anthem, they close their eyes, they close their ears and they close their hearts to your story. Should they be so narrow minded? No. But like I said, the national anthem is an emotional thing for millions of people, many who have lost family and friends who serve.
So see, there are so many multiple facets in this discussion. So many opportunities to teach, share, listen and come together in a new understanding of what is going on, but instead we have created yet another dividing line in our society. Those who stand and those who kneel. This has not fixed the problem. I wish we could find common, middle ground so we can work towards solutions together.