It’s football season and of course, the NFL is the topic of discussion. But the latest discussion isn’t about football, it’s about the NFL players’ choice of protest: kneeling during the national anthem. Sunday, 150 NFL players took a knee or protested in other ways. Some stood but locked arms as a form of solidarity. Some teams did not even come on the field while the national anthem played. Many people think this is a protest against the flag. “Patriotic” Americans are calling the protest disrespectful and a slap in the face for veterans who died for their freedoms. The president demands that the players be fired for exercising their right to protest. He is also calling for a boycott of the NFL, which will take money from the pockets of the NFL owners who supported him. Isn’t that funny?
This protest has nothing to do with the flag. It has nothing to do with the national anthem. This protest is against police brutality. The kneeling form of protest all started with Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was black-balled from the NFL simply for using his right to protest. After Trump’s ignorant remarks about NFL players protesting, many of players decided to follow Kaepernick’s lead.
There’s nothing wrong with what these men are doing. The first amendment gives everyone the right to peacefully protest. Nowhere in the law does it say every American must stand for the national anthem. This is a free country, right? Besides, the national anthem is problematic. Francis Scott Key wrote a song about freedom, while people of African descent were slaves on the same land. Also the line, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave; From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”. So if someone did choose to protest the national anthem, I wouldn’t blame them for that.
It’s unfortunate that people are more outraged by kneeling during the national anthem than the reason there is a protest. Does a flag and song matter more than black lives? “Patriotic” Americans complain that these protests disrespect veterans. They say that veterans died for their right to protest. Well, if they died for that right then why can’t they use their rights? I also find it funny that the only time people mention veterans is to silence discussions on racism. I wonder how many of these “patriotic” Americans actually help our veterans. There are veterans out there who are mentally ill, homeless or both. How many of these “patriotic” Americans give money to charities for veterans? Do they speak up for the mistreated veterans?
NFL players have also been called ungrateful and been told that they have nothing to complain about since they are “rich”. People believe that these players owe America loyalty. It’s like saying, “How dare you complain, look at what we’ve given you!” It sort of reminds me of bigots who say that black people should all be grateful that our ancestors were slaves because we now live in America. I think some would like it better if black people were docile like many were during the slavery and Jim Crow eras. Those were the times when black people could put their lives in danger just for “disrespecting” a white person. I can’t forget to mention one of their most notable lines, “If you don’t like this country then leave”. Why is that a response when people speak out about racism? It’s almost as if they know there is racism here and they are completely comfortable with that. Hmm..
To sum it all up, I support the protest. If Nazis have the right to “protest” with tiki torches in their hand then NFL players have the right to kneel! I’m tired of people picking and choosing who and what freedom of speech applies to. I do hope that one day people will focus more on police brutality instead of the national anthem. But, maybe I’m being too optimistic.