“Please rise and remove your hats for the playing of our National Anthem.”
This simple phrase, ingrained into the lives of all Americans since preschool, provides a moment to honor those that gave our athletes the freedom to play professionally.
Until recently, the anthem to professional athletes has seemingly been little more than the indicator of the start of a game. However, Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers
, shocked the nation when he deliberately chose to kneel for the National Anthem, in protest of recent police brutality.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “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.”
The anthem is a common symbol of pride, but little pride can be taken in a country that still behaves in a racist manner. The ethnocentric tendencies of America are crippling any progress, and recent events have served as a regression for positive race relations.
Although most of America is split on whether Kaepernick’s actions are momentous or disrespectful, some other NFL players have openly displayed their support by raising their fists or kneeling as well.
Kaepernick is willing to do what so many are scared to by taking direct action, instead of hiding behind a hashtag on social media. He is utilizing his position in the public eye to initiate some real change, despite the backlash. Yet today, many Americans prefer to let someone else fight for them, and then cower when things take a wrong turn. The opinion of the majority is not always correct and rarely challenged due to weakness and fear.
America was founded on the ideals of protest and freedom of speech. This so called “land of the free” is a facade if even a portion of the population feels their rights are repressed. Kaepernick is truly strong for continuing the fight against oppression, because the issue of civil rights has not disappeared, and the battle appears as though it will never cease.