Opinion piece by Mfon E.
Growing up Catholic, I am used to the act of humbling myself by kneeling. And as a sports fan, especially for football, I know that “taking a knee” is a sign of respect for players who have gotten hurt. Whether in a religious or sports setting, kneeling is a reflection of community, humility, and respect.
When I recently attended a church service, the priest spoke about how we need to constantly humble ourselves by kneeling before God. That statement made me think about the cries and complaints of those who are disturbed by the actions of athletes taking a knee to put a spotlight on the social injustices, specifically police killings of minority women, men, and children, especially in African-American communities. Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers, began this peaceful protest a year ago. Few understood why he was kneeling during the anthem to protest racial discrimination and police killings. He’s a rich athlete; why should he care about the mistreatment of individuals being profiled and abused by racist cops?
Kaepernick cares and used his platform to express his concerns because if he weren’t in the NFL, if he didn’t have great athletic skills, if he weren’t rich, if he weren’t well-known, he would just be another “black man,” another problem for communities, another practice target for racist police officers. By taking a knee, Kaepernick decided to push aside worldly possessions and humble himself, before his teammates, his opponents, and the United States. His kneeling and the silence that accompanied it, have directed the public’s attention to the issues that are causing this protest. But the only thing critics are focused on is the kneeling and how he is not honoring his country. But, we must ask, how is his country honoring him? By killing people who look like him because they can?
The media and a handful of conservatives depict Kaepernick’s actions as disrespectful to U.S. soldiers. They make it seem as if you’re not honoring the country and those who fought for it if you fail to stand during the national anthem, but again, I ask, are they? Some of our veterans are homeless, and the way they are treated in Veterans’ Hospitals around the country is disgraceful. On top of that, the words of condolence that came out of the mouth of their Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, to a now pregnant widow who lost her husband in battle were, “But you know he must have known what he signed up for.” How is that honoring soldiers who have fought and died for this country?
Those who have chosen to take a knee are humbling themselves for justice. If you were to watch a neighbor, friend, or family member, die by the hands of someone else, and that person (or institution) got away with it, would you not be overwhelmed with rage and sadness? By taking a knee, these individuals are screaming their rage with silence; they’re fighting without firearms. Some people say that discussing social issues at a sporting event is bad timing, so when is the right time? In our personal and professional lives when everything seems confusing and chaotic, sometimes we have to stop, think, drop to our knees, and humble ourselves to find inner peace, or pray to God (if you’re religious). We all need to take a knee and really look at this country we hold dear.