Colin Kaepernick: why we should kneel with him

Samantha Simmons, Opinion Editor

Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Tanisha Anderson. Akai Gurley. Tony Robinson. Freddie Gray. Alton Sterling. From the moment gunshots first echoed through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to countless unarmed residents of black communities being targeted because of the color of their skin, contemporary American society acts as a battleground for race and belief systems preceding our generation.

This battleground has always existed, but has now moved from the streets to the football field due to Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “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.”

His teammates and coach stand behind his decision to join many other athletes in using their status to encourage awareness on issues affecting American citizens, specifically issues facing the black community. But despite the support from not only his teammates, many media outlets and the general public, Kaepernick has received his fair share of disapproval from the public as well.

The inconvenience of his protest has been pointed out in defense of the troops who fight for the freedom of people like him as well as his inexperience with the oppression he takes a stand for. To begin, Michael Che verbalizes this point perfectly on the most recent episode of SNL’s Weekend Update: it is a protest. It is not meant to be convenient. To truly take a stand for a movement you believe in you must raise eyebrows and force people to look towards the problems they’ve been ignoring. To see the issues regarding the contamination of the freedom of specific citizens and then ignore the chance to vocalize them, would be squandering the very freedom of speech and right to protest our troops are fighting to maintain.

As for his limited knowledge on the day to day lives of those being oppressed, this protest was not for him. Protests like these are for those that do not have a voice, and we should be honoring those that sacrifice their reputation for the well-being of others who were not given the same opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, most hate generated on this topic is being perpetuated by white citizens; families of the white police officers responsible for the deaths of these men and women and other privileged citizens unconcerned with the well-being of others outside of their families and social-circles. Just because this issue is not affecting you specifically, does not mean it is not a prominent problem facing the lives of many Americans. And it does not mean you can criticize the efforts of others speaking out on issues you are too afraid to speak out on yourselves.

Every knee that touches the ground represents the lives being honored of the men and women killed in the battle between their race and the oppression they face.