This is so much bigger than a knee and a flag
I have been grappling with my opinion on #takeaknee since the very first time Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem. To be honest I wasn’t so much grappling with my opinion on him kneeling, as I knew that I agreed with why he was doing it, but rather coming to terms with the fact that my opinion may contrast those I respect. I had a lot of people close to me who have a strong influence on my opinion disagreeing with my opinion. I believed that maybe they were seeing something that maybe I didn’t see. It is hard to have people you respect disagree with you. I didn’t want to share my opinion in fear that I would ostracize those individuals, but the reality is I am not scared anymore. If these athletes are willing to put their jobs, careers, reputations, and lives on the line then the least I can do is share my opinion and hopefully maybe change the opinions of those I respect. I know now that my gut was right and I am ashamed that it took me so long to say I stand with Colin Kaepernick and all those who kneel in solidarity and let me explain why.
Like with many issues in America we like to simplify it. Why? Because we don’t like messy issues. We don’t like things that are so real and complicated that we can’t form a clear answer. Therefore we simplify things to right and wrong, stand or sit, support your soldiers or BLM. We don’t like the grey area in the middle where reality actually lives. It has become clear to me when looking at my social media that this is where we have come to, but in reality this is far bigger than a flag and a knee. This issue has to do with what our country was built on and represents.
America prides itself on the 1st amendment and its freedom of speech. However over the course of time what this freedom looks like has evolved. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We have come to believe that freedom of speech is the right to say whatever you want whenever you want to say it, and the reality is that is not what the original intent was. The 1st amendment was specifically designed to give Americans the right to criticize their government without fear of prosecution. Why? Because we had just come from England where this freedom was not a reality for many people. It was so important to our founding father that individuals have the right to speak freely about government and their country that THEY MADE IT THE FIRST LAW IN AMERICA! Think about the magnitude of that fact.
As we have continued through time people have used this amendment as an excuse to harass and degrade people while proudly sticking up their nose and yelling “1st amendment this is my right!” While these individuals are not necessarily wrong they aren’t at the very core right. You know who is right? The individuals who take a knee against our government and system that is constantly oppressing them. This is what the 1st amendment was designed to protect all those years ago. If our founding fathers wanted this as our cornerstone law then there is nothing more American than honoring that law.
People have then said that these individuals who kneel are blatantly disrespecting the men and women who fought for this country and lost their lives so that they could have the right to kneel. For those people I tell you that you are missing the point of this kneel and the answer youre looking for is in the previous line. These soldiers fought so that they had the freedom to kneel. Whether they agree or not soldiers fight for our constitutional rights and as stated above kneeling is apart of that. In addition, this argument to me is a distraction from the real issue. These individuals aren’t protesting our soldiers, and their intent is not to disrespect them or those who have lost their lives. Imagine having your movement so misunderstood that people are mad about something that you aren’t protesting while they turn a blind eye to the real issue. If you can’t see the difference between a flag and troops then you shouldn’t be able to see the difference between our country and the hatred that is in it right now. Kneeling doesn’t mean you hate troops or disrespect their sacrifice. Kneeling means that you are trying to make their sacrifices worth it. So that when they fight for this country it is for everyone.
This issue is not simple. The reality is these individuals are protesting because our country is broken. It is not safe to be in this country if you are a minority. Black men, women, transgender, and nonbinary individuals are dying everyday. Racism, sexism, anti semitism, islamophobia, homophobia is at an all time high and everyone is just trying to find a way to speak up and speak out. If I had a platform that had millions of people looking I too would utilize that to shine light on an important issue. If you can’t see that or understand why they are kneeling then I encourage you to do the research. Don’t be passive and don’t let it be simple. Stand up for those who take a knee.