The Arrowhead

Taking a Knee: Peaceful Protest or a Sign of Disrespect?

Colin+Kaepernick+%28right%29+and+Eric+Reid+%28left%29+kneel+at+NFL+game+%28Mike+McCarn%2FAP%29
Colin Kaepernick (right) and Eric Reid (left) kneel at NFL game (Mike McCarn/AP)

Colin Kaepernick (right) and Eric Reid (left) kneel at NFL game (Mike McCarn/AP)

Colin Kaepernick (right) and Eric Reid (left) kneel at NFL game (Mike McCarn/AP)

Rachel Krouk, Features Writer

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After gaining popularity following the series of 49ers football games in which Colin Kaepernick  knelt during the Star-Spangled Banner, the debate over kneeling during the national anthem has divided the country, eliciting both disapproval and support.

While this movement first gained a national audience in 2016, the origin of these protests date back to the summer Olympics of 1968, in which Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American athletes, were expelled from the Olympics for raising a fist in salute to African American power. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, many other similar incidents ensued, in which athletes were banned from competing in sports due to their choice of stature during the flag salute.

In more recent years, the movement has become linked with the Black Lives Matter protest and the fights against police brutality. It has been closely associated with football players from various teams and associations, who have taken a knee during the anthem. As the popularity of this movement has increased, many have questioned the morality behind kneeling during the national anthem.

Freshman Gabe Sneed weighs in his opinion. “It’s disrespectful to the flag and the country because [it appears as though] they’re not protesting racism, but they’re protesting patriotism. If they’re protesting racism, the football field is not the place to do it.” Others in opposition view the protest as a form of disrespect towards those who are fighting for the country.

While there are many who are against the movement, many are in favor of it as well. The support for kneeling during the national anthem extends beyond football players; so just how widespread is this movement?

Over the past year, many other football players, and members of teams of other sports have showed their support as well for Black Lives Matter using various different methods of protest. In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers chose to stand and link arms on October 17 when playing the Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, on September 23 during their game against the Texas Rangers, catcher Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics was the first player in the MLB to kneel during the anthem.

The spirit of the protest has even traveled beyond sports, shown through sophomore Ariya Blow’s effort to spread the movement to Watchung Hills.

Each morning during the flag salute, Blow stands as a sign of respect, but chooses not to salute as a way to express her beliefs. “It’s not us disrespecting the flag or our country, because we live in a great country…” Blow explains. “I respect my country, but I don’t feel in my heart like they respect me.” As described by Blow, “it’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in out of fear of judgement, but it’s still a cause that needs to be listened to and heard.”

This is the same goal that has been encouraging athletes across the country to kneel during the national anthem at various sporting events. The widespread audience of these games allow for their voices to be heard across the country, further spreading the ideals of racial equality that many citizens seek.

 

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Taking a Knee: Peaceful Protest or a Sign of Disrespect?