When you think of the NFL (National Football League), what is the first word that comes to mind?
Your favorite football team
Maybe that team you dread to hear about?
Perhaps it is the Super Bowl
Or (even better)
Beyoncé at the Super Bowl!
Or maybe the word is
by taking a knee.
In a recent report by CNN, the action of protesting the National Anthem by taking a knee has been a regular play NFL players have been making since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel in 2016. This movement has been seen from a diverse array of players from numerous teams across the nation; from the Washington Redskins who stood together arm-in-arm, the Cleveland Browns where players took a knee or even New Orleans where the Saints sat on the bench during the singing of the anthem, all making a bold move, all facing heavy criticism, including strong comments from the President of the United States.
In the face of the heavy criticism, many have formed great opinions for and against this act, some calling it a peaceful act of protest, while others see it as a disrespectful act of hate towards the nation. Regardless of how you feel towards the matter, the biggest point that everyone is disregarding are the facts.
In my criminal law class, we were taught to create a statement of facts. The biggest precedent behind the statement of facts is to take away the opinions that one can form in a criminal case and acknowledge what is certain, the facts.
We have been so caught up in our own opinion about this movement that we forget the facts of the case, the undeniable truths in which no one can argue. We need to remember the facts of the case. Allow me to list a few out for you:
- Colin Kaepernick was not the first athlete to protest the National Anthem. As much as we would all love to give the brother the credit for starting this groundbreaking movement, he was not the first to take a stance against the country during the singing of the National Anthem.
- The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Regardless of whether people agree or disagree with the action that these players are taking, it is their constitutional right to do it.
- Taking a knee does nothing.
For me, this is the most important fact. We have been so fixated on the action of players taking a knee, but forget that the action results in nothing. But though it results in nothing, it is continuously done because it puts a spotlight on an issue that is not consistently recognized. In October, it is a tradition to wear pink for breast cancer, but wearing pink does not stop breast cancer. There are no lives saved nor lost in consequence of wearing pink, so why do we do? Well, the answer is simple. We do it to raise awareness for a disease that has taken many lives and inspires others to work together to defeat it. This is similar to taking a knee. We take a knee to raise awareness of racial inequality and police brutality and inspire others to work together to defeat it.
These are the facts.
With all of this, I want to leave you with this inspirational quote that defines this movement to me.
“History is not just stuff that happens by accident. We are the products of history that our ancestors choose if we’re white. If we are black, we are the products of the history that our ancestors mostly likely did not choose. Yet here we are all together, the products of that set of choices. And we have to understand that in order to escape from it.”
Kevin Gannon, 13th
I wrote this post to inspire healthy conversation and to raise awareness for this movement.
Seek out conversation with others and don’t forget to…
Pass the Salt!