The Forum: Colin Kaepernick's protest
Kaepernick is now famous for taking a knee during the national anthem before each game as an act of protest. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. In this edition’s forum, students share their thoughts on Kaepernick's protest.
Kaepernick's protest puts lives over symbols
By Joshua Brisco
Colin Kaepernick chose the ideal time, place and posture for his protest. If his biggest stage is not the time for a peaceful protest of injustice, then when is? The problem has never been about Kaepernick’s timing, but the audience’s misunderstanding of his message.
Kaepernick is not protesting the national anthem; he is protesting during the national anthem – before an NFL game, no less. Kaepernick chose to use two American symbols to ask an American audience to acknowledge an American problem. But this is where the mistranslation of Kaepernick’s message often begins.
Because of Kaepernick’s America-soaked form of protest, many people quickly, continually and wrongly interpreted his actions as an affront to U.S. armed forces, which Kaepernick is explicitly not protesting. However, the subconscious juxtaposition of the American flag and the military is understandable. The flag often, though imperfectly, represents U.S. soldiers who have made great personal sacrifice to protect the country. But the military is not the target of this protest. Kaepernick has repeatedly clarified that he is at odds with America’s oppression of people of color and unjust killings by police, taking no issue with the military. Now the burden of understanding falls to us, the observers and interpreters.
Kneeling during the national anthem is not a threat to America, but unjust killings of unarmed citizens is. We must put the importance of lives in danger above the perceived sanctity of a symbol. We must not allow a symbol of this nation to become a symbol of the things this nation claims to stand against. We must not call for silence and complacency when a citizen makes a plea for justice in the form of a kneeling, peaceful protest. The time and place worked – America has taken notice of Kaepernick’s message. Now we must strive to understand his actions and words, remembering that lives will always be more important than songs and flags.
There is a time and place to express your opinion
By Carlos Guzman
It is a cultural norm and in some cases, a rule, to keep one’s personal views to him or herself when in the workplace. While Colin Kaepernick is completely within his rights to protest during the national anthem, the setting in which he chooses to make his statement is inappropriate.
In a “normal” job setting, what normally happens to an employee when he or she imposes his or her opinions on others while on the job? That employee would be dismissed or severely reprimanded. When Kaepernick protests, it is right before a game, when his entire team is in uniform and ready to “work.”
By purposely taking a knee, he’s deviating from the norm of our society which is standing with your hand over your heart during the national anthem. This can be a huge distraction for the other players, both for the 49ers and the opposing team. He is disrupting the professional environment. Therefore, his actions are out of line in accordance with proper workplace etiquette.
The players, coaches and officials all gather in the same area for one reason and one reason only: to play football. They are on the field to win and provide entertainment for spectators, not to start social movements. The players have every right to use their celebrity status to promote a better society when they are not playing. I do support athletes who are actively involved in the community. I do not however, think it is wise for them to impose their views while in the middle of a competition.
Even before Kaepernick’s anthem controversy, his actions were questionable and even seemed immature at times. During team training camp, Kaepernick was photographed wearing socks with pigs wearing police caps. Why would he ever consider such a childish way to protest injustice?
There are infinite ways Kaepernick can be an ally and voice of the oppressed. He could hold press conferences, march in protests, or financially support organizations fighting injustice. He has taken initiative by donating $1 million to organizations combating injustice. Being a distraction to his teammates is simply not the most effective way to spread his message.