Over the past weekend Donald Trump once again showed his true colors when addressing his stance on protests during the National Anthem during NFL games. On September 22, at a rally in Alabama, the president of the free world randomly brought up the controversial kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL football games, which was started by Colin Kaepernick a little over a year ago. At his rally, Trump, suggested that NFL owners should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired,” in regards to those who decide to take a kneel during the anthem. He has once again revisited the rhetoric his campaign was built upon, bigotry and hate.
With all that has occurred in our neighboring countries and within our own nation, the natural disasters and destruction to the home of many men, women and children, Trump decided to give all of his energy and attention to bashing a peaceful protest to promote change within our country.
Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling approximately 13 months ago, although at first he decided to sit on a bench during the anthem. Kaepernick began to kneel to show more respect to military veterans. This protest began in the wake of one too many officer-involved shootings which have, sadly become the norm in a nation that is supposed to promote equality and justice for all. In a press conference following his first protest, Kaepernick said “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.”
The kneeling begun as a stand against police brutality and the unfair treatment of black men by law enforcement. He kneeled for young men like Trayvon Martin, who walked to the store for skittles, only to never return home, and men like Philando Castille who was gunned down in front of his daughter at a traffic stop in which he did nothing that should have cost the loss of his life.
The kneeling is to promote unity and togetherness in a country divided by race, yet many continue to insist that the protests are a sign of disrespect towards America and the American flag. How can one disrespect a country where many do not respect them? Those that have come before us have fought, marched and even died for us to be treated fairly in America…but the year is 2017 and we are still not there.
We are under the leadership of a president who referred to neo-Nazi and other hate groups as “very fine people” and those practicing peaceful protesting as “sons of bitches.” The leader of our nation turns to Twitter fingers when things do not go his way or to bash those who do not agree with him. The very day that followed his remarks on NFL players kneeling, Trump took to Twitter to “revoke” his invitation to Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, because Curry was hesitant to accept an invite to a White House plagued by an administration that supports inequality and injustice.
Once again, athletes are told to keep politics away from sports; however, greats such as Muhammad Ali paved the way for young men to use their platforms to stand (or in this case kneel) for what are right. Although there appears to have been an abundance of support for kneeling this past week, we must still ask ourselves why Colin Kaepernick is still without a job. Perhaps the world should take San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s advice and “decide that the institutions of our country are more important, that people are more important, that the decent America that we all thought we had and we want is more important, and get down to the business at the grassroots level and do what we have to do.”
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