By Tatyanna West, Class of 2020

Colin Kaepernick, a former professional NFL quarterback from San Francisco, 49ers has been in the spotlight for his actions that occurred during a preseason game two years ago. Before the start of the game, during the National Anthem, Kaepernick was seen kneeling down near his standing teammates. In an interview, he responded to the question of why he had kneeled for the anthem stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride for a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

From there controversy arose. There were those who agreed with the silent protest and showed their support by tweeting the hashtag, “#TakeAKnee.” Despite the outpouring of support from some of the country, Kaepernick’s actions were not accepted by some as well. Donald Trump deemed the footballer as “unpatriotic” and “an embarrassment to the country.”

His protest sparked the negative attention of Trump who took to Twitter to display his displeasure “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem — RESPECT OUR COUNTRY.”

In an interview with Fox News, Trump continued to criticize Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem “I watched Colin Kaepernick, and I thought it was terrible, and then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming, and frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game, and he would have never done it again.”

Kaepernick is now a free agent and continues to promote his cause against social injustice. He recently worked with Nike to put together a commercial to rebrand the “Just Do It” cause and connect it to his protest.

Frankly, I disagree with this style of protest for multiple reasons. Kaepernick has said that he refuses to stand up to show pride for a flag or a country that oppresses black people and people of color. This reasoning to me is slightly flawed because by not standing for a flag and assuming that the flag only represents or oppresses one race of people is not completely accurate. For countless years, men and women of many different ethnicities have laid down their lives for our country and flag. Kaepernick’s protest, though understandable, completely disregards the very people it’s based on. I personally do not believe that it is the flag that oppresses people; it is people that oppress people. To take a knee to a flag and an anthem that stands as a representation to the men and women of all colors who have served our country can be seen as a great act of disrespect and disregard to their sacrifice.  

Overall, Kaepernick is a great example of someone willing to put his career and livelihood on the line for something he passionately believes in; Black lives. However, veterans of all races also are huge examples of people who put their lives on the line for something they believe in; the flag and this country. Kaepernick and veterans have this in common so both sides of this argument can be understood.


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