Anthem Kneeling to Fight for Racial Equality
by Camille A-G on November 4, 2017 - 11:32am
In the past few months, a discussion has risen in the United States and internationally regarding athletes, especially football players, kneeling during the American national anthem. Clark Mindock, an American journalist, discusses and explains the debate around this controversial topic in an article for The Telegraph.
The action of kneeling by American athletes in front of their flag and during their national anthem has created an altercation as some, including President Donald Trump, were offended by the action. Mindock explains the reasoning of the debate with the initiation of the discussion.
The kneeling of athletes started with Colin Kaepernick, a little over a year ago, when he decided to sit on the bench during the national anthem of his football confrontation. The athlete then changed his protest to kneeling during the hymn. Players accompanied him, and this action caused a strong reaction from multiple Americans, including Mr. Trump.
Kaepernick, in a conference after purposely sitting on the bench during the anthem, threw light upon his action, saying he does not want to ''stand up to show pride in a flag or country that oppresses black people, and people of color''.
For many, sitting out or kneeling in front of the country's flag is highly offensive to the nation and is unpatriotic. The athlete also explained: ''to me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder.''
Kaepernick's declaration shed light upon an issue he believes is more crucial than the country's pride; police brutality against people of color and racism. The problem of police brutality was also an important controversy in the United States as multiple videos demonstrating police officers wrongfully and unreasoningly shooting, killing and attacking black people became viral. The absence of consequences for police officers pulling the trigger encouraged, hiddenly, racism and injustice toward people of color.
The brutality and discrimination of black people in the nation elucidates the issue of racism in the country, and the act of bringing this issue in front of the American flag brought offendedness and rage from many.
Some argued that politics should not be incorporated into sports, and that such an act of kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the country's history and servicemen and women, no matter the reason behind the action. During a campaign in Alabama, Donald Trump exclaimed his disapproval and anger concerning the athletes kneeling, saying he wants the protesters to be fired: ''wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a b**** off the field that now, out, he's fired.'''
After Trump's comments on the issue, some athletes decided to not be present for the national anthem, as doing so would mean to agree with a nation that disrespects people of color’s right. Baseball and basketball professionals have shown solidarity by also refusing to be present during the nation hymn.
Finally, Mindock explains in the article that athletes showing their political beliefs or disapproval of the nation has been present before. John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised the black power salute during the 1968 Olympics and Muhammad Ali famously refused to be enlisted into the Vietnam war as he denied to fight for a country that treated black people as subhuman. Also, some NBA players, such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, wore supportive shirts of the Black Lives Matter movement after Eric Garner was attacked and choked to death my police officers.
The issue discussed in Clark Mindock's article has created a debate from two sides. The conservative worldview by Donald Trump and his supporters brings a patriotic pride of the country's military and history, a pride higher and more important than the issue of racism. The conservative worldview comes from values of tradition and individualism. All-right white nationalists agree with white power and the country's pride. Such an individualist worldview with old traditional values explains their vision on this issue. Conservatives believe the country's pride comes long before racial discrimination, and white nationalists desire for racism as they hope for white people to be in dominance, therefore disagreeing with the protesters.
On the other hand, the socialist worldview agrees with protesters as their values encompass equality. This worldview believes in a connected society that works together for the good of all. This idea explains why, on a lefter side of the political spectrum, they agree with the protests to end police brutality and racial discrimination, an issue more important than the country's flag.
In conclusion, on a personal note, I agree with the protestors who kneel in front of their flag as I have a socialist worldview. One of my most important values is equality for all, no matter the ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. In my past experiences, I have met diverse people and realized how we are, at the core, all the same and that we should not be defined by, for instance, our race. I also believe that equality is a crucial need that is much more important than a country's pride for a flag.
How else may we fight for racial equality? What are the next steps athletes and other supporters should take to create a fair country?
Mindock, Clark. ‘’Taking a knee: Why are NFL players protesting and when id they start to kneel?’’ The Independent, 25 Sep. 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/taking-a-knee-national-anthem-nfl-trump-why-meaning-origins-racism-us-colin-kaepernick-a7966961.html. Accessed 4 November 2017.