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Take A Knee and the NFL – Where does protest end and action begin?

fineartamerica.com

Last year, Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the flag and brought a whole lot of attention to why we even do the anthem. The ripple effect of this immediately affected a few of his teammates and outspoken LGBT+ women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe. At the end of the season, Colin was cut. While being a sub-par player it is certainly not smart to insult the country that gives you the right to play a sport for a living. Now, this ripple has turned into a fault. Donald Trump made a vulgar statement about those who knelt for the flag that was highly inappropriate and almost instantly tore the country in half: Those who saw themselves as patriots who loved the flag and those who supported the movement Colin started. For those of us who didn’t agree with the protest but still was for the freedom to protest, we were put in an awkward position where both sides saw us as traitors.

Week 3 of this season saw nearly 180 players protesting the flag and anthem, 3 teams that stayed in the locker room and even LeSean McCoy warming up during the anthem. All of these are within people’s rights. However, it was met with heavy consequences. Donald Trump went to his favorite weapon in Twitter to bash the NFL and his base followed him into battle. Many people who spent tons of money on season tickets and team gear burned it publicly; some people even made parties of it. The NFL viewing has sunk below baseball and basketball ratings in viewership. This is the beauty of the free market; actions have consequences, whether good or bad. However, on the 10th of October, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement that would force players to stand for the anthem. This response was too little and too late for many of the people who already were too focused on these “Un-American” people and it showed that Donald Trump really is a winner. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good win.

We need to talk about this truthfully. Colin Kaepernick and his protest were fueled by a lot of lies that were fed by Black Lives Matter and pushed by left leaning media. However, we need to get to the root of the problem and that is police brutality. Personally, I love the police and every encounter with them I’ve had has been pretty good. My worse one just seemed like he was having a bad day and that’s fair. Police brutality is not a race issue but it has become racialized and that’s not the way it ought to be. White men, statistically, will be shot by police even more than black men by a heavy margin. Also, black and Hispanic officers are more likely to pull the trigger than a white police officer when it comes to “people of color”. Most of our police officers do a fantastic job but we do need to work on the ones who are bad. For instance, in the Philando Castille case, it looked very unjust. The officer got off free and in my eyes, it was a failure on the police department and justice system. However, that is how it goes sometimes. Justice isn’t always found and it’s very unfortunate.

I willingly stand up in this case and like cases to say that needs to change and I’ll do what I can; most Americans feel this way as well. The narrative being pushed is that police are marching down the streets shooting black people at random for no reason but being black. This is disingenuous and is what is causing a rise in attacks on police. If you remember the Korryn Gaines case from last year, they had video of her brainwashing her child into thinking that the police officer was out to kill them while he was calmly trying to talk her through the process he was going to take. This is the same message that is being spoon fed to other children of color; the world is out to get them. Instead of being taught moral values, respect for law authorities and to be strong people for themselves, they are instead taught at any second the police could snipe you and get away with it. They’re being taught that “white privilege” will boost others to make more money than them even if they work the same. They’re taught to admire people like rappers and athletes, people rife with immorality and corruption rather than people like Thomas Sowell, Sheriff Clark or even Neil Degraft Tyson.

On record, Mike Ditka (former head coach of the Bears 1985 Super Bowl team) said that there hasn’t been oppression in 100 years. This is absolutely false but in our modern day, oppression is gone. Donald Glover made a ton of money off his show centered in Atlanta to stand up in front of the Emmy’s and say that “black people are the most oppressed people in America because of Trump.” This reveals the reality that modern oppression isn’t as much physical as it is in your mind. There are problems that still hold black people back. Ben Shapiro offers advice for people in these situations though: “If you don’t want to be permanently in poverty, graduate high school, get married and then have children.” It doesn’t mean you’ll be a millionaire, but it will certainly do more for you than those who are currently impoverished. This is an issue that every American should be invested in, but has taken a knee actually helped?

Colin Kaepernick since his departure from the league has gotten out and done a lot to benefit those who are in a rough situation. He’s donated money and handed out suits for job interviews, which is a good thing to do. I still disagree wholeheartedly that black people are currently “oppressed” and with a lot of Colin’s politics, but I do commend him for his actions. There are others who are not helping the situation get better.

1. Donald Trump. The new leader of the free world and a man I personally voted for. He’s been hardcore letting me down, especially in the light of these incidents. I don’t like that these guys are kneeling either, but instead of making this country one they could be proud of, he instead attacks them. IF anything, he should have just let it go. He shouldn’t be involved. Constantly pushing this us vs. them mentality on this situation may win elections but it doesn’t make us a stronger nation.

2. Michael Bennett. My least favorite players in the NFL are the Bennett brothers. They’re two vulgar and ridiculous people who do more for antics than results on the field. Recently, during an incident in Las Vegas, he was temporarily arrested and he lied about the whole situation. He claimed the police chased him down because he was black and threatened to kill him. This incident was caught on camera and he was debunked by the footage, but he doesn’t even care. He continues to push this narrative because it fits his agenda. He’s leading sheep-minded people in to the trap that America, in and of itself, is racist. My largest problem with him: he offers no solutions. He complains, he has interviews on his opinions, he sits for the anthem and now that he’s on this platform he uses it to do nothing. It’s an embarrassment and it’s divisive.

3. The Mainstream Media. I’m about tired of everything on TV, which includes right wing news like Fox News. So much of it is nothing but trash and when it comes to this issue it just makes it worse. Both sides have an argument. The typical right wing argument how standing for the anthem means you’re proud to be an American and if you aren’t standing, you hate America and you should go back to Africa. The typical left wing argument is how forced standing for the anthem is un-American because we were founded on protest and if you stand, you’re supporting a homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, KKK-filled, white supremacist patriarchal country that is inherently evil. Not only is this divisive for those who religiously watch these programs, it also isolates those of us who are in the middle of the argument. Instead of being objective and seeing the other side of the argument, both would rather swing at the other half of the country and demean them to haters of America.

So, what do we need to do? The best example of what I’ve seen is what Kenny Stills and the Miami Dolphins did. They went out into their community and they had a conversation with the police and with people who live in the Miami area. The goal was to have mutual respect between the police and the citizens they are bound to protect. The police can do a better job of holding themselves accountable certainly, but as citizens we can make their lives easier. If we respect them the way we ought to, the only ones who will be a problem are the criminals and they can be handled more efficiently. While we have blatant liars like Michael Bennett, it just makes it harder for the police to be efficient.

Taking a knee alerted us to issues of people who didn’t feel comfortable in this country and our leader. I disagree with forcing people to stand, I’d rather start a dialogue so people want to stand. So people understand that while America is flawed, it is the best the world has ever seen. So many cry for more diversity when we’re the first nation to ever to take in so many peoples from so many places, and the only reason it feels like a failing effort is because of those who continue to play the race card for advantages they don’t truly need. For some people, they started kneeling for the flag and we should honestly talk to them about it. Not making them feel like un-American garbage but rather making real arguments about what the anthem means and how we can help in bettering the nation. For me, this has made me really thinking about what America great and things I think we can improve on, but I’m thankful to God I live here. I even stand in my room and sing the flag now because I understand it’s importance and I’m proud to be an American. We should all be proud to be here and we need to work as citizens to help our nation be better and talk when we disagree instead of turning against one another. Taking a knee is something you may decide to do and I will defend your right to do it; but let’s try to actually find answers to these solutions instead of following an agenda for reasons with little evidence to be found.

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Alex Newman

Alex Newman is studying History in Tampa, Florida. His dream is to be a teacher so that he can inspire and empower the next generation to truly think for themselves, to build off of the successes and to fix the failures. If you would like to contact Alex, please reach out to him on Twitter @_alpha_flight_.

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