I’m sure by now you have heard about the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick & the national anthem. If not, basically, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been refusing to stand for the anthem at the beginning of games. When asked why he cited the oppression of Black people in this country for why he did not want to acknowledge the anthem. It has been mayhem ever since.
There are many who agree wholeheartedly with Kaepernick’s decision, but there are also many who believe that there is no excuse for “disrespecting the anthem or the flag.” Commentators, other players, & veteran NFL players have come out to condemn his actions. They claim they understand the need to protest in some way, but they do not seem to appreciate the method he has chosen. Since Kaepernick has come forward, he has been joined not only by teammates, but other players have either decided to kneel or raise their fists during the anthem. Beyond the NFL, players in professional soccer as well as high school football players have joined in.
People seem to be truly outraged. I have never seen the anthem so fiercely defended. According to most of the angry, not to acknowledge the anthem is disrespectful to veterans. Many veterans took to Twitter in support of Kaepernick’s actions under the hashtag #veteransforKaepernick. Other people state that if people don’t like the country so much they should just get out. Again, I find myself extremely confused. Of all the things to want to cry treason over, it’s this? People are always talking about freedoms & the Constitution, but will abridge the freedom of us to protest if they don’t like the way it is done. A man says that he is refusing to acknowledge a song that celebrates a country where Black lives can be taken & shrugged off as worthless & people find his kneeling more offensive than the continued dismissal of Black lives. White supremacists routinely burn the American flag & walk around with the Confederate flag, a symbol of breaking up the United States, but kneeling peacefully is disrespectful?
I’m just truly baffled by what people find offensive. It’s not horribly offensive to broadcast the brutal deaths of Black people all over TV. It’s not offensive to have a new Drump soundbite saying awful, unAmerican things & lying everyday, it’s not offensive to have actual white supremacists running for public office, but someone’s decision to use their platform to express disappointment in this country is terrible. People are constantly disrespecting President Obama, yet this is where the line is drawn for disrespect of the country. Ryan Lochte went to Brazil, acted a fool, lied, & damn near started an international incident while he was supposed to be representing our country as one of its best, but he was a just a boy who made a mistake. NFL players have done all sorts of horrible things with little to no discipline from the league, but people think that protests are a reason to boycott the NFL. The priorities of people are astounding. Even moreso because I’d be willing to bet most of the people who are so upset couldn’t even really explain their allegiance to the anthem.
We grow up in classrooms where we have to stand & put our hand over our heart as we sing it, but what does the anthem really mean? In 1814 when the poem was originally written, plenty in the US wouldn’t have had much of the freedom that the song goes on about. Slavery was still in full swing & that’s not even counting the treatment of women or the poor. Black people for damn sure were not singing anybody’s Star-Spangled Banner. All of these patriots all of a sudden coming forward demanding blind nationalism. If this election has taught us anything it should be that the last thing we need is to blindly support things. So many of us are thoroughly disgusted with the politics going on as well as an upswing in bigotry coming from Drump’s supporters. Drump has actually said that Russia’s president is better than ours, not to mention telling Russia to hack into Hillary’s emails, but we want to talk about allegiance to this country. Please!
No matter how we have tried to protest the killing of Black people there is always a complaint. It doesn’t matter how peaceful it is, how deep our despair or how much sense we make, it always is critiqued instead of heard. People are always making it about something else. First it was all lives matter, now the troops matter. Not the troops who come back to the country they fought for & get no support for mental health or even in job support. The troops are actually suffering & the debt of gratitude people want to pay is singing a song? Vets are out here homeless & unable to readjust to society, but everybody stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s always about the troops in theory, yet not support for their actual livelihood. So what’s it really about? It’s just another way to disregard the oppression of Black people. We can add the anthem to the ever expanding list of things that matter more than Black lives. Yet people wonder why we feel the need to reiterate that Black lives matter. The reaction to the protests make it even more apparent why it is so important.
It has been suggested that we get a new anthem. I honestly don’t think that is the change we need to be focused on. The whole point is that we as a nation cannot go on like this. It has been two years & there has not been any true enduring change in terms of the state of policing. It is still enough for a cop to say they felt scared & unsafe to rationalize killing people. We’ve actually seen blue lives matter bills passed which has made police a protected class. Police attacks are dwindling, nowhere near as common as the killing of unarmed Black people, yet they are the ones who have been granted even more protection. So it’s extremely cruel to insist that people who do not feel their freedom ringing should have to stand up, put their hand over their heart, & give honor to a flag that does not represent liberty for them.
This is not about hating the country. Patriots throughout history have not been those who have just accepted things as they are, they have been people who have fought for the freedoms that we are due. Kaepernick is far more patriotic in his quest to improve the country than anybody just automatically jumping to their feet for the anthem. This country has never improved without people taking a stand. Things must change in this country & we should salute anyone dedicated to making that happen. I don’t know what is so difficult to understand about us not wanting public servants to be able to make themselves judge, jury, & executioner. We have not been granted all of the rights & freedoms the Constitution is supposed to give the citizens of this country, but we’re supposed to sing “Our country tis of thee” at the top of our lungs? That’s not how this works. You cannot continue to insist on the support of the country from those who are not supported by it. Salute to Colin Kaepernick & all who have joined the cause. It is going to take fighting on many fronts to insure better living conditions for all of us.
What do you think? Is Kaepernick right or is it disrespectful?