NFL Players Take A Knee To Bring Attention to Racial Injustice


By Liz Wagner

Since 2016, professional athletes in the NFL have been refusing to stand during the National Anthem as a protest to minority conditions in our country. This, obviously, has drawn up major backlash from not only the sports world, but now the president and everyone in between.

Because of these events, a national conversation has opened up on respect for the flag, the men and women who protect our country, and our country in general. But the problem with this is that they’re missing the point that is intended to be made.

Rosa Parks was not protesting a bus. College students in the ’60s were not protesting lunch counters. And marchers in the streets are not protesting traffic. These are just vehicles by which to bring attention to much bigger issues. Since the beginning, no disrespect has been meant for the flag, the anthem or what either of these stand for. These are just an effective vehicle to be used in bringing attention to inequality, police brutality and racial injustice.

When Colin Kaepernick originally refused to stand, he was not protesting the anthem, but police brutality. Kaepernick along with all other NFL athletes have a platform every Sunday. With this platform comes the responsibility to use it in a positive way to better our national community.  Taking a knee is taking a stand against minority conditions in the US. Those taking a knee are not disrespecting our country, but instead respecting our freedoms, exercising arguably the best thing about our country.

There has yet to be an interview in which an athlete states they are protesting our military, flag, country or anthem. In fact, almost all of these athletes have started off interviews by explaining they mean no disrespect to these things or what they stand for. When Kaepernick started this demonstration in 2016 he was sitting. This did not sit right with members of the Navy Seals who approached him asking he kneel, and he did. This is because it is not about the kneeling, just as it is not about the anthem or the flag.

Additionally, nowhere in the US Flag Code does it state that you must stand during the anthem. Yes, it is an unspoken sign of respect, but take a look at any religion and you can see that kneeling is too. It is stated that holding the flag horizontally is disrespectful, but we still use the red white and blue to cover the field before games. It is also stated that wearing the flag as clothing is disrespectful, but the president does not openly attack swimsuits being worn at the lake during Memorial Day weekend.

So why are we focusing on the flag? Does the real problem make us uncomfortable to address? Racial divides are alive and well in this country and it is much easier to discuss the “disrespect” of the flag rather than the disrespect of an entire race.

We as a country need to move on from the flag, the press conferences and Twitter statements and fix our eyes on what is going on in this country. It would be extremely easy to write an article on the statements President Trump has made over the last few days, but that too would be distracting from the point.

The fact is our country has not fulfilled its promise of equality under the law to its citizens. This is the conversation nobody wants to have. No, taking a knee before a football game will not achieve equality. But wearing pink will not cure cancer. The point is to bring awareness to the cause, and considering the numbers have risen from 10 individual athletes to over 250 athletes, coaches and teams, they are doing a fantastic job of it.