ALANA on taking the knee
If there is one thing America is known for around the world, it is for being the land of the free. Free in a number of different ways such as, self-expression and freedom of speech. Recently the National Football League (NFL), has been dealing with a form of freedom of expression that has caused much controversy. Players from teams throughout the league, have been taking a knee during the National Anthem. The controversy this has caused among some people, is that they believe taking a knee during the national anthem is a complete disrespect to the flag. However, what those holding this view fail to realize is that, taking a knee isn’t a disrespect towards the flag or our country, but a peaceful expression for the social and racial injustice that is occurring in our country.
This demonstration began with Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL professional quarterback. While he began the demonstration, and was not the only one to participate, no NFL team has signed him to a contract, leaving him without work. Instead, he seemed to have been labeled as a trouble maker, and a publicity liability. Since the original Kaepernick kneeling incident, countless players and coaches have also taken a knee, or have even locked arms while standing in unity during the national anthem. These acts are not an act of disrespect, but an effort to bring awareness to the injustices faced by so many people of color in a country that preaches freedom and equality for all. It is unbelievable that these peaceful protest continue to draw the ridicule of so many.
Many who oppose those who kneel, claim the kneeling shows disrespect towards the flag and those who fought for our country. However, a careful examination of the code of the American Flag lists many rules that have never been followed, and has not drawn criticism from others. Why is it that this act of peaceful expression seen as offensive? For so many year’s people have worn the American Flag on apparel and have displayed it on napkins and paper plates and on the back of their cars. The codes of the flag specifically state that, “The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat”, as well as, “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard”. There is also the rule that states, “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery” (July 4, 1995). Where is the outrage from these violations?
Another reason for the outrage against the peaceful expression of kneeling, is that it disrespects those who have fought for our country. However, in a recent post by Navyveteran Jeff Dyche on Twitter, he stated: “If you think I joined the #USNavy so NFL football players can kneel in protest of racial injustice, you would be correct. #TakeTheKnee” (Sanders, 2017). They fought and risked their lives so that Americans could have freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Jeffrey Correa, an Air Force veteran, said: “I’m a #veteran and I’m proud to have fought for your right to #TakeTheKnee. A flag and an anthem are meaningless without values behind them” (Sanders, 2017). They died for our country so that all can have equality and it doesn’t seem as if our service men who served this country feel disrespected by the act of taking a knee.
So, what is the actual problem that some people have with the act of taking a knee? It’s those who fail to believe that there is social and racial injustice in this country that have a problem. There is failure to see the issues going on in this very country today and that is the real problem. It will only be until all recognize the things this country lacks in, to be able to one day live up to the true title of the United States of America, the land of the free and justice for all.
Nisreen Yatim, a junior, studies human services and rehabilitation. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.