In the wake of a somewhat tumultuous week, we have seen player after player decide to take a knee like Colin Kaepernick in the first major protest against racial injustice in America. Though some see the protest as an attack on the American flag and National Anthem, the real reason is much more harrowing. Earlier this week professional baseball player Bruce Maxwell, #13, of the Oakland Athletics decided to take a knee and join the protest despite the probable backlash he would face.
What is the National Anthem Protest?
The protest first started in 2016 with professional football player Colin Kaepernick decided to sit and kneel during the National Anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. The significance of kneeling during the National Anthem is something that is both impactful and a peaceful form of protest. The tradition of standing during the National Anthem is said to honor the fallen soldiers that died for our country, our police, and other members of the armed forces as well as to honor the American heritage.
The protesters are not protesting the National Anthem or the flag per se, but are instead working to draw attention to the racial inequality that is present in the United States today as well as police brutality that is overwhelmingly aimed at people of color. NFL players quickly jumped in league with Kaepernick to show their solidarity and their support for his efforts to draw attention to the issues that are so often forgotten or simply brushed under the rug.
Protests have spread across the country with players of color as well as Caucasian players coming together to show that they will not stand for inequality in any capacity in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal. The protest is peaceful and Kaepernick and those that kneel with him want to fight anger and injustice with peace to show that violence is not the only way. Rather than forming violent protests as some protesters have, these players are using their fame, notoriety, and their public platform to draw attention to issues that many people are not aware of or simply refuse to acknowledge.
The protest spawned from the Black Lives Matter movement that started to protest the killing of people of color by police officers. The movement was in response to the high profile killings of men like Michael Brown in Missouri, teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, and Philando Castile in Minnesota. The movement started as largely peaceful but some protests did take a violent turn. Kaepernick saw his opportunity to support the movement in a peaceful way that did not hurt anyone physically.
Though Black Lives Matter is less in the news than it once was, this protest is a peaceful way to keep the social injustice in the news and to keep people thinking and talking about what can be done to help promote justice and equality in our great nation. We are a people of many colors and as such it is important that we band together to make sure that everyone is safe and that everyone is given the chance to flourish without fear for their lives daily.
Who is Involved in the Protest?
Though the protest started with one single player, as many great protests do, it has spread to all sports, all players, and a wide range of veterans that are kneeling with the players and defending their right to peacefully protest the injustice that they see every day. Bruce Maxwell of Major League Baseball is just one example of players that are using their status to peacefully highlight issues that have plagued our country for years.
Not only are professional players protesting, veterans, police, and even some citizens are voicing their support for the movement because it is one of the largest peaceful protests that the country has seen so far. From professional players to high school athletes, everyone has an opinion about the protests and everyone that has an opinion is taking the time to voice it.
The protest has spread quickly and though many criticized it at the start, it has gained in popularity and has helped people see that there are other ways to protest that do not involve the destruction of property and that do not involve hurting others, even those that you do not agree with. There are players in nearly every sport that have joined in the protest and it has gained the interest of some very powerful people.
Nearly everyone that has seen the protest has some idea of what they feel and many have taken to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to either disparage the protest or to show their support. According to the constitution, the people that are involved in the protest have every right to protest as it is their first amendment right to freedom of speech.
Response to National Anthem Protests
The protests have not gone unnoticed by those in power, namely, United States President, Donald Trump. Trump openly stated on the social media platform Twitter, that players that protested should be fired immediately and that they were openly disrespecting the country as well as the men and women that defend it and that have died defending it. Maxwell has recieved both support and death threats for his choice to kneel during the anthem.
The goal of protest is to make people uncomfortable so that they pay attention to the issues that are at hand. The protest has certainly done that keeping the POTUS ruffled and openly mocking, name calling, and trying to stop the protests as quickly as he can. In some ways he has with many people voicing their disgust with the protests.
However, many team owners are instead siding with their teams and their players and even kneeling on the field with them and locking arms during the anthem. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is a fantastic example of this as he took to the field with his players and coaches and kneeled before the game to show unity and to show the need for solidarity and equality. Other teams are doing the same and many owners stated that players are not going to be punished for standing or kneeling during the anthem as it is their constitutional right to do so.
Though many teams are standing together, some individual players like Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburg Steelers decided to stand and salute during the anthem. Though he did this, he openly voiced his support of his fellow players that decided to protest as he fought for their right to do so. Trump has called time and again for an open ban of kneeling during the anthem and a rule that requires players to stand.
As the protests sweep the nation and social media plays a huge part in the spread of this protest, we are sure to see many more players join in and just as many voice their support. This is a protest that has certainly made waves and that has had a huge impact on players from all sports, people from all age ranges, all genders, and all races as we work toward a nation that is truly equal. As days go on and more and more people join the protest, we are sure to see more and more attempts by people like Trump trying to stop the protest for whatever their individual reasons are.