Take a Knee or Take a Stand?

Casey Pontes, Contributor

In the summer of 2016, Colin Kaepernick and his teammates took the field to play their first practice scrimmage of the season. Though it went unnoticed because of Kaepernick’s lack of play time in the previous seasons, he had been sitting on the bench during the national anthem for three straight games before it was noticed by reporters and posted on the media.

When asked about why he chose not to stand for the anthem he stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and other people of color.” Though Kaepernick’s statement claims to be for oppression for people of color, others have added their own spin to the reasoning.

For example, Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins stated that “it amazes me that with everything else that is going on in this world that’s what people are concerned about. As a man, as a father, as an African American football player I take this personally, but as I said in my Twitter post this is bigger than me. I do this because I have a daughter and she is going to have to live in this world and fight for rights, not only because of the color of her skin, but because of the fact that she is a woman.”

So maybe taking a knee has to do with more than just racism. Maybe this goes deeper than the color of our skin. Dating back to before the B.C.E. time period, it has been documented that people have been taking knees for centuries. There are pictures of people kneeling in front of kings and queens, or tribe members. So why now in the 21st century are people viewing this as a way to not only disrespect the flag but also disrespect the people who fight for it?

Image result for martin luther king kneeling

In the photo above, you will see Martin Luther King Jr. kneeling. The revolutionary leader took a knee while leading a prayer on February 1, 1965 outside the Dallas County Alabama Courthouse, along with several other Civil Rights marchers. Men marched together: some were of color, some were not. Does this look like disrespecting the flag to you? To me it looks like people trying to make a difference and make the world a better and safer place.

America was built as a democracy and peaceful protest is supposed to be what makes our democracy so great. Protests have been held by the people who built this country. Kneeling to the flag is supposed to help stop conflict, not cause more. If you felt that your rights were being restricted or you were being treated in a way you view as unfair, then wouldn’t you too stand up for what you believe in?