‘Taking a knee’: We need to bring the controversy back to where it needs to be.



San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


With all of debate surrounding this issue, the real reason behind the protests have consequently been blurred. Attention needs to be brought back to the fact that players are protesting police brutality and social injustice towards black people.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

These are the words of Colin Kaepernick, last year explaining why he decided to kneel during the anthem before a game. Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers started the “take a knee” movement, which has been displayed by other players in the league ever since and has garnered its largest show of support after President Donald Trump criticized the protest and players who engage in it.

Many other players have spoken on the legitimacy of the protests. Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin was quoted saying “If an American can’t air their grievances to the republic for which it stands, then where can they air their grievances? And when you have the president of our country basically saying, ‘I don’t want to hear your protest. I don’t want to hear your grievances,’ then I think that’s where we have the challenge.”

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy also talked about why he and his team chose to lock arms instead of kneeling.

“I was proud of the players. They’ve put a lot of time and energy and thought into it. They’ve met. They’ve had a chance to discuss, each and every guy, to express his opinions. I think, like anything in life, you’re never going to have everybody feel 100% the same way, but it’s just something we talk about a lot as a football team. I always want to make sure that the why — why are we doing this — is explained. And you want them to have the opportunity to disagree… And I think this is an example of that. So the process that they’ve gone through, I’m proud of them. Their approach is one of a positive nature, and that’s definitely the preference. So, locking arms and honoring the flag I think is a very good thing.”

At the end of the day, these people aren’t just protesting for protesting’s sake, they’re doing it for a cause. That is where our attention should be. We should be careful not to drown out the reasoning behind all this, because the first step to fixing the problems being protested is acknowledging them, and that’s all these protesters are trying to do.