Why There’s No Disrespect in Kneeling for the National Anthem

Bryn Valdez, Reporter

Still under fire, NFL players following the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick, continue to protest racial inequality by kneeling during the National Anthem. The movement started over a year ago, when former San Francisco 49’rs quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated on the bench while the National Anthem played.

Since August 16th, many other players have joined in kneeling, a gesture Kaepernick and Nate Boyer, a teammate and veteran, decided was a more respectful way to protest while still addressing the problem.

“Especially at a young age you shouldn’t disrespect the troops. Most people don’t have that much knowledge about soldiers and what they’re going through for our freedom,” said football player, Fr. Gage Mestas. However, while many people find this to be true, kneeling for the National Anthem is not meant to target troops, or disrespect the flag.

“Players aren’t protesting the flag, we love America, but it’s about how how much institutionalized racism and police brutality there is all around,” said Sr. Grace Wilmes. Many people, not just fans, still see the act as disrespectful to our troops and country.

Kneeling is much more about the injustices that people of color face in their everyday lives, living in America. Its purpose is to draw attention to the matter, in a public, non-violent manner, to get the message across to even those who don’t follow such news.

While this is what the gesture is meant to stand for, some, including the President still disagree. In a recent tweet, President Donald Trump wrote, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

It is extremely disconcerting to hear our President speak of firing players for utilizing their 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech. Furthermore, players have tried, numerous times to communicate their motives.

There is no denying that Americans of color, especially African American, are placed at a disadvantage in the eyes of the law, with the black incarceration rate being nearly 5 times that of whites. Not only that, but in terms of police brutality, black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than white Americans.

We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy,” said Eric Reid, a former teammate and protester of Kaepernick’s.

However, opinions are divided when it comes to high school students adopting this practice. “I couldn’t take it seriously. We don’t have anything to really kneel for, with police brutality, or racism,” said Fr. Alex Pavon.

At the same time though, the purpose of the gesture is to bring unity to all communities whether these issues are prevalent or not.

“I, personally am a part of a group at the college, Black Student Union, and at almost every game we kneel, and it’s just so empowering,” said Wilmes.

Conflicting opinions or not, kneeling for the National Anthem is part of a bigger issue, which needs to be talked about more. It isn’t until attention is brought to inequality, that change can be made.