Feeling the Kneeling?


Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has been making headlines for the past year over his controversial kneeling campaign. In response to the police brutality and racial inequality in America, Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem. Fellow athletes followed him supporting his protest by using his trademark pose, staying off of the field during the anthem, or locking arms in solidarity.
While the campaign did spark conversation, a majority of it was not related to Kaepernick’s message. Instead, most people wrongly believed that Kaepernick was using his platform to publicize a political opinion. President Trump responded to the display with outrage demanding that all kneeling players be fired for disrespecting the flag and the army. His outrage rings hollow as veterans have advocated for players who kneel on multiple occasions. Others claim that athletes should not be allowed to protest in uniform, but who are we to deny them the right to use their platforms? Activism isn’t always palatable. Sometimes it takes up space like highway marches or it makes people uncomfortable, but that’s okay. Those are nothing more than growing pains while America adjusts to new social standards. Regardless of rebukes, it appears that the only person negatively affected by #TakeAKnee was Kaepernick who found himself unemployed when players were drafted this season.
Police brutality is a serious issue that still requires a platform for discussion. I will #TakeAKnee with Colin but it’s more than a polarizing issue to tweet about and forget. Hashtag activism – the fast paced discourse found on social media – tends to chew up and spit out topics, but police brutality does exist and will continue to exist unless people put a stop to it. Taking a knee is symbolic of many things but it’s nothing more than photogenic activism. Police brutality won’t be ended by a hashtag but this is a positive first step. This began with a kneel. What’s next?