Whether rich or poor, it is still difficult being a black person in the United States. You make one wrong move and everything will start to go wrong for you. This is the case of 49er’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
In America, it is custom to stand during the National Anthem with your hand on your chest. During a preseason game on August 26th, Kaepernick kneeled on one knee while the rest of the team stood for the National Anthem. Since then he has been persistent and refuses to stand up. This action did not go unnoticed, as many people had opinions about it and it made national headlines. Kaepernick met with the media a few days later and stated, “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I think that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.” This man has a point. The National Anthem and flag is supposed to represent freedom, equality for all and human rights. That may be the case for certain people of privilege but it is certainly not the case for blacks living in America. African Americans are judged for their skin and seen as monsters. Police are murdering black men for no reason and getting away with it. A young black male can’t even play policemen with fake guns outside anymore. Something bad happens and people will automatically assume it was a black person. If you take a stand or decide to use your voice, you will be looked at as “out of your place”. Does that sound like equality for all?
Since Kaepernick started his protest, his life has gone from flourishing to a slow decline. His fan rate has dropped increasingly as many say he is disrespecting America. Before the 49er’s most recent game against the Bills, fans were shouting U-S-A, implying that protesting injustice is un-American. There were also shirts being sold with Kaepernick’s face in sites of a rifle scope. Other fans were tackling a dummy that looked like the football player. This man is enduring so much hate from people, yet he still remains going down on one knee during the National Anthem. You have to have courage to go through something like that. When asked about Kaepernick’s protest, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg replied, “I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do but I wouldn’t lock up a person for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to do such an act.” She later apologized for her comments and took them back. Even though she did, her comment is still controversial.
Having a voice and expressing your views should not be stupid. Kaepernick said, ” I don’t understand what’s more American than fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for.” He has a point, but people seem to think he is doing something wrong by giving his opinion. It seems like when African Americans step out of the box and are real, society can’t handle it. Are we not allowed to say something when being done wrong? If you go look in the Constitution, it says in the First Amendment we, as Americans, have the right to freedom of speech and the right of peaceably assembly. Therefore no one has the right to get mad because of what Kaepernick did. He committed no crime nor did he hurt anyone. This man was practicing his First Amendment right. At the end of the day, everyone knows African Americans do not get the same equality as everyone else in America.
Kaepernick’s protest was not done in vain. Slowly but surely, other famous football players and other athletes have joined Kaepernick on one knee during the National Anthem. On September 1st, Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid gave his support before the game and proved it by taking a knee beside Kaepernick. Another famous football player who joined the cause was Seahawk’s cornerback Jeremy Lane. He sat on the bench before the National Anthem in Oakland. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe also joined in and took a knee on September 4th. She felt the same as him saying as a gay American she knew ‘”what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all your liberties.” Kaepernick was just the ignition to the fire. He had the courage to stand for equality for all African Americans who do not have a voice. His protest has caused many other athletes besides the ones named to go down on one knee and let their voices be heard.
It is not only famous athletes participating. High school football players are also taking a knee. Bands are also participating. Kaepernick was the first one. Now many others are following behind him to get the equality African Americans deserve here in America. In the words of former Seattle Seahawk’s running back Marshawn Lynch, “I just hope people open up their eyes to see there’s really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop.”