No, NFL players are not taking a knee to ‘disrespect the flag’

Corea Parks

It is no secret that the U.S. is being shaken to the core at the current moment, not only by the collective hurricanes that have ambushed several states, but also by something far more damaging long-term. I am talking about the race war that is brewing within the melting pot we know as America. 

What started as an individual utilizing a very public platform to express his concern with racial injustices, like many other civil rights leaders of the past, has resulted in a raging U.S. president spitting demands and repercussions. 

Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has devoted his time and his name to standing up for what he believes is right by taking a knee during the National Anthem at NFL football games. He has also made a $1 million charity pledge to help empower oppressed communities. However, his actions on the field have been plenty scrutinized by the millions of people watching, players playing and coaches coaching.

While it is easy to chime in on this very trendy controversy, I think that it is even more important now than ever before for people to pay attention. There are three things that I think are critical to address and reflect on.

The very first thing is to understand the intentions of Kaepernick. Now, in the same breath, I can also say that no matter how carefully spelled-out his intentions are, there will still be people that use the flag and the military to camouflage their frustration with black people having a voice. I’m going to spell it out anyways: Kaepernick is not protesting the flag. He is using the right given to him to protest the injustices that certain races are forced to face every day in America. It is as simple as that. 

Change doesn’t happen unless a stance is taken. There is a huge difference between equality and equity, and Kapernick is fighting for the U.S. to move into the direction of creating an even ground for all. What is unfortunate is that many Americans, specifically white Americans, rather than recognizing this and reflecting on the idea of white privilege (because no one wants to accept the idea that something was handed to them), would rather stew up critical accusations because that’s easier.

I’d like to put things into perspective: Kneeling during an anthem is not disrespectful; wearing a flag is. Kneeling during an anthem is not intentionally disrespectful to troops; taking inappropriate pictures on a Holocaust memorial ground is. Speaking out against police brutality isn’t disrespectful to the police force; calling NFL players “SOB’s” on national television at a presidential rally is extremely disrespectful to the innocent mothers who have raised these successful professional athletes. And for those of you who are screaming that politics should be left off the field, where were you when the U.S. Department of Defense was throwing a surplus of donations with taxpayer dollars to get teams out on the field for the National Anthem? 

The second thing I would like to address and reflect on is the sudden change in support. When this silent protest first took place it got press, a lot of controversy, and then it just kind of lurked in the shadows. Everyone knew about it, but no one was really talking about it. Then something happened. 

President Donald Trump addressed Kaepernick in a presidential rally in which he called Kaepernick an “SOB” and went on to demand that the NFL fire all players who silently protest during the National Anthem. Up until this moment, Kaepernick had the support of athletes such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry. After these remarks, however, athletes who said they would never kneel actually knelt during the National Anthem in week three. My question is, what has changed? Kaepernick’s motives and intentions haven’t changed. Do people just despise our president that much, or was this verbal attack from the president just the last straw for so many? 

The final thing I would like to address very briefly in the form of a question is this: If so many of these NFL owners and coaches are feeling the need to be supportive and take a stance for what needs to be righted in America by taking a knee and staying in their respective locker rooms during the National Anthem, then why is Kaepernick still unemployed?