Standing Up Or Kneeling Down When Facing Social Inequality and Police Brutality

by mxrdwr on September 12, 2016 - 5:47pm

In the article “Colin Kaepernick’s Anthem Protest Leaves the N.F.L. Necessarily Uneasy” by Juliet Macur in The New-York Times, Macur recounts the statements and actions taken by the N.F.L. regarding Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the American national anthem.  

Kaepernick, 28 year old quarter back for the San-Francisco 49ers, has been very present in the news lately for kneeling down during the national anthem before games. Kaepernick aims to bring change in the United States by peacefully fighting racial inequality and police brutality. His actions have created a debate within the United States. Other players have joined him, others disagree with his actions while some Americans are outraged with Kaepernick’s different approach to patriotism.

In her article, Macur explains the situation from the N.F.L’s perspective. She analyzes Roger Goodell’s response towards the situation. Goodell is the N.F.L. Commissioner since 2006 and he released a statement saying: “I don’t necessarily agree with what he’s [Kaepernick] doing.” Macur then proceeds to analyze the statement and explaining why Goodell can find it uncomfortable to take a concrete position regarding the debate because of his “less-than-stellar relationship with players”.

Goodell has also stated that he will support players that wish to see change in society as he admits that improvements can be made but that both he and the N.F.L. strongly believe in American patriotism. This statement shows that Goodell will not position himself strongly as he agrees with both parties but believes that there are better ways to protest.

With Kaepernick’s movement growing, the debates have intensified with the fact that games will be played on September 11th which is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Some think that on that day, patriotism should favor over free speech while others believe otherwise.

Macur explains that the N.F.L. and football are “typically American” and that even though the N.F.L. says the organization is growing internationally it stays very military friendly and very patriotic with the fighter jets and oversized American flags. It is understandable that the N.F.L. and Goodell cannot support Kaepernick as some can view his protest as un-patriotic.

Macur then proceeds to explain how organizations would only put the spotlight on the singer in the 60s and 70s when they feared protests about Vietnam during the anthems. She then says that on an outdoor stadium, lights cannot be dimmed so the spotlight will stay on Kaepernick and those who join them and that this debate is not over yet.

In her article, Juliet Macur went in depth and analyzed statements from different people surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s protest. Kaepernick is trying to raise awareness about racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling down during the national anthem before games. The debate here is whether we shouldn’t use pour freedom of expression while paying tribute to a tradition that is a major part of society. Different ethical issues being addressed in this debate are freedom of speech, respecting a culture’s long lasting tradition, and taking everyone’s interests and opinions in equal consideration. Colin Kaepernick uses his freedom of speech by kneeling down during the anthem, he uses it to try and bring change to society and nowhere in the American constitution is it written that he may not use his right to do so. On the other hand, some feel as he is disrespecting American culture as standing up during the anthem shows pride and pays tribute to the past for creating the country they live in. The main debate coming out of Kaepernick’s actions is whether deciding to not pay tribute to the past because the society still has problems to deal with before we can truly be proud of it is un-patriotic or that standing up to society in order to bring attention to the problems it has is even more patriotic.

In my opinion, I think that Colin Kaepernick has a right to protest and that he chose a peaceful and effective way to get his message out. A country that has been built on values such as freedom of speech, which is proud of that fact, cannot be offended by someone kneeling down because there are problems that need to be fixed. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right in the United States while standing up during the national anthem is a choice. You can choose to stand up and show pride in the country built by your ancestors or you can choose to kneel down and show that there still needs to be work done before you can truly be proud of your country. Should societies value historical social accomplishments over present possible social improvements?

Works cited:


Macur, Juliet. “Colin Kaepernick’s Anthem Protest Leaves the N.F.L. Necessarily Uneasy” The New-York Times, September 2016, accessed September 7th.


I enjoyed your article, the title really caught my attention! I definitely agree with you. I think that Colin Kaepernick's way of expressing how he feels towards the whole ordeal going on right now was very noble and, like you said, peaceful. It was a clear gesture demonstrating his position without causing a huge turmoil in the moment. I believe freedom of speech is a very important value and no opinion should be silenced, especially if it is communicated respectfully. The United States and the world as a whole have a lot to work on. I believe that it is small but loud gestures like this one that will create essential changes for future generations to come. The question I ask myself is, when will society stop living in the past and start thriving for a better future?