Last year Colin Kaepernick took the knee before countless NFL games to highlight systemic racism & police brutality. Since then Kaepernick has been blackballed by the NFL in response to his protests.
However, things took a turn for the worst when the President of the United States, Donald Trump, attacked the peaceful protests of NFL players that took a knee during the National Anthem to support Kaepernick and his message.
He said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Speaking at a rally at a special election in Alabama, Trump went on to add that “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect… our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
As a result tons of NFL teams and their owners came together to either kneel, sit or not even show up on the field during the National Anthem on the 24th of September, a sign of a silent but resilient protest.
Worldwide supporters of Trump roared in anger, many stampede to Twitter to give their very verbal & sometimes insensitive opinion. Most calling those protesting the flag disrespectful to the veterans and fallen soldiers who died for America.
These are the same comments that met the young black unassuming sportsman who started all of this, Colin Kaepernick. In August-September 2016 Kaepernick made national headlines when he went from sitting down to taking a knee during the National Anthem with teammate Eric Reid. His change in stance came after talking to ex NFL long snapper & former Green Beret Nate Boyer, "We were talking to (Boyer) about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are."
For six months straight Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before every single one of his football games, because in his own words "This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t."
Colin Kaepernick & Nate Boyer
He added: "I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone."
"That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody...I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they have fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right."
Kaepernick joins the ranks of Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph, Curt Flood, Jackie Robinson & Muhammad Ali, all of these athletes instigated change, held America accountable and history has proved they were right to do so.
Yet Kaepernick's heartfelt words (and protest) seem to have fallen on deaf ears for some, specifically those that are not directly suffering from police brutality or racism. It is no secret that oppression has haunted the US since its conception, birthed from the domination & murder of the Native Americans and built on the backs of enslaved black people, it was only a measly 53 years ago that segregation was allowed.
In that time since now, it is obvious that segregation might have ended but the mindsets that thought it was okay in the first place are the ones holding America back now.
This can be seen in a recent video by Trevor Noah, he points out the hypocrisy of those that criticised Stevie Wonder for being an "ungrateful millionaire" for taking a knee, as a sign of silent for solidarity with all of those fighting against police brutality. "This idea that black people should be grateful is some sneaky ass racism," Trevor explains.
"Because when a white billionaire spends a year screaming that America is a disaster, he's in touch with the country. But when a black man kneels quietly he should be grateful for the successes that America has allowed him to have. How is that ungrateful, I don't understand..."
Kaepernick, The NFL, countless celebrities and the several people that have chosen to take the knee stand against a system that rewards killing an unarmed black person (the officer that killed Philando Castile received a payout of nearly $50,000 after being acquitted of manslaughter), once again this same 'system' isn't held accountable when it arrested 16-year-old Kalief Browder for allegedly stealing a backpack, which saw him spend 3 years at Rikers Island.
Browder was eventually found not guilty but he struggled with life after Rikers and committed suicide in 2015; and with little to no legal ramifications for those that unlawfully shoot and ask questions later, it is easy to see how a flag that represents equality for all, can sound like a broken record to those that are continuously oppressed.
It was only early this month that Seattle Seahawks star Michael Bennett released a statement describing an assault he suffered at the hands of the Las Vegas Police Department during the Mayweather vs McGregor boxing match.
Police officers dragged Bennett away from a crowd that was escaping from the sound of gunshots and pulled him to the ground, a police officer dug a knee into his back threatening to, "blow my fucking head off."
The full account can be read below:
Incidents like this and the lack of justice given to the countless victims and their families prove that #TakeTheKnee is bigger than Trump, the NFL, its owners and even Colin Kaepernick.
This is what it is about: Amadou Diallo (1999), Kendra James (2003), Sean Bell (2006), Ramarley Graham (2012), Ezell Ford (2014), Dontre Hamilton (2014), Eric Garner (2014), John Crawford III (2014), Michael Brown Jr. (2014), Ezell Ford (2014), Dante Parker (2014), Tanisha Anderson (2014), Akai Gurley (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Rumain Brisbon (2014), Jerame Reid (2014), Tony Robinson (2014), Christina Tahhahwah (2014) Daniel Covarrubia (2015), Rexdale Henry (2015), Phillip White (2015), Eric Harris (2015), Walter Scott (2015), Freddie Gray (2015), Walter Scott (2015), Samuel DuBose (2015), Loreal Tsingine (2016), Gregory Gunn (2016), Philando Castile (2015) and the countless potential victims of police brutality in the future in America.
#TakeTheKnee is about America, for America and the values it stands for, it's taking the word "equality for all" and making it a lived out reality for every single American citizen.