The Right to Kneel

Channai Williams, Editor In Chief

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I take a knee today because of injustice.

I take a knee today because of inequality.

I take a knee today because of racial discrimination against people of color.

I take a knee today because of unnecessary deaths of young African-American men and women.

I take a knee today to protect my right to take a knee.

Ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick broke from tradition and kneeled for the National Anthem in August of 2016, he has been deemed by some as a social pariah. No team will sign him, and some believe it’s because he is protesting. Kaepernick began his protest to bring attention to the police violence, including the deaths of young black men. For standing up for what’s right, he’s being punished.

Our country is based on a foundation of liberty and patriotism. Many people take pride in.

Kaepernick, who peacefully protested against the anthem, has started a new era for African Americans.

According to recent tweets from president Donald Trump, NFL players who take a knee should be fired or suspended.

According to NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, NFL players and owners didn’t  care for Trump’s language.

These are men who are wealthy individuals and it’s said that wealthy men don’t like to be told what to do. They don’t like to be bullied, especially by an outspoken president.

In protest of Trump’s divisive words, NFL players and owners joined together. In fact, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took a knee with his teammates during a Monday Night Football broadcast, but Jones did so before the start of the anthem. Some of the more recent protesters aren’t fighting against racial discrimination and for equality. They simply took a knee to defend their First Amendment right to free speech and free expression.

But wasn’t this presidential bullying around long before Anthem-gate?

NFL players didn’t bat an eye when Trump called U.S. Senator John McCain a loser because he got captured while in service to his country. They didn’t bat an eye when Trump disrespected a family whose only son served in the military because the family was muslim. They didn’t bat an eye when Trump said that Mexican immigrants are rapist and drug dealers. They didn’t bat an eye when Trump talked about grabbing women by their lady parts.They didn’t bat an eye when Trump said he was going to build a wall. They didn’t bat an eye when Trump said he was going to get rid of DACA. They didn’t bat an eye when Trump declined to make any disparaging remarks about the racists in Charlottesville. In fact, he assured us that some of them were “good people.”

They didn’t bat an eye then. Why now? Because Trump called them SOBs? Because he disrespected them for kneeling?

Some say kneeling disrespects our country and our military. They’re wrong.

The flag represents freedom and justice. But there is no freedom, nor any justice, when black men are being gunned down in the streets for having a tail light out or for selling CDs in front of a convenience store or for stealing packs of cigarettes from a gas station.

Doesn’t our military fight for us to have rights? To have justice? To have freedom? Aren’t we simply joining beside our soldiers to fight for the same things?

This protest is a fight against discrimination of people of color. It’s a fight that should have ended long ago. But some people persist in their nasty ways. And others are left without much of a voice. It’s sad that the only way to get attention is to shock people by kneeling during the anthem. But it’s necessary. And, it’s peaceful.

In a rebuke to President Trump, the U.S. House of Representatives took a knee Sept. 26. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee knelt with other black caucus members.

“I kneel in honor of them. I kneel in front of the flag and on this floor. I kneel in honor of the First Amendment. I kneel because the flag is a symbol for freedom. I kneel because I’m going to stand against racism. I kneel because I’m going to stand with those young men and I’ll stand with our soldiers and I’ll stand with America—because I kneel,” Jackson Lee said.

Resist the temptation to nod in agreement when people tell you that it’s disrespectful to protest during the anthem. Sadly, these days people are often uniformed and will believe and support anything without looking for the truth. Open your eyes and get educated. What you don’t know can hurt you. Someday, it may be you, a relative or a friend looking down the barrel of a police officer’s pistol. It’s time to stand up by kneeling. Take a knee. THAT is a step toward making this country great.