Table of Contents
Take a knee movement is a protest group by NFL players who stoop instead of standing when the US national anthem is sung before major events. The main reason for its formation was to counter the rampant racial discrimination and police violence against blacks in America. The defiance was started by Colin Kaepernick in 2016; he knelt before the onset of a San Francisco 49ers pre-season game (Felix, newyorker.com). Football players have continuously displayed the protest in all their games in America and other countries (Davis 291). This research essay presents thoughts for and against the take a knee movement; in a bid to find a final stand about this public defiance. There are a number of advantages of such disapprovals. On the other hand, without proper planning and blueprint, similar movements may end into crimes (Danver 34). The US government have to devise ways of meeting the movement’s demands as soon as possible.
The movement started when a black player, Kaepernick, remained seated when the US national anthem was sung (Felix, newyorker.com). The player was protesting the killing of defenseless blacks without trial in a number of states (Wyche 10). Later, the riot graduated to kneeling. The football community insisted that was to defy the widespread racism in the league and America at large. Other players have since joined the coup; kneeling at the beginning of their games. President Donald Trump announced the sacking of all football protestors, saying they were a mock to the dignity of America. Even after Trump’s declaration against the movement, the competitors kept on with their resolve. When Baltimore Ravens played against Jacksonville Jaguars, most of the players knelt. Even the club owners, key political players, protested by locking their arms at the London match.
Funnily, the American teams have stood in honor of other anthems. Specifically, the London match saw the drama of players showing respect to the English national anthem called ‘God save the Queen’ (Felix, newyorker.com). In a recent match in Wembley stadium, all the New Orleans saints knelt at the sound of the US chorale. The act was followed by president Trump ordering the firing of defiant players, citing them disrespectful to the nation and her flag (Burgoon, Guerrero and Floyd 15). Today, baseball and basketball professionals have joined the football players in their expressions. However, the white house keep rebranding it as dishonor to the American flag. Also, some leaders have thought it is unwise for players to display political stands on the field.
The take a knee movement is the most peaceful way for the players to demand for their rights and those of other black Americans (Burgoon, Guerrero, and Floyd 21). In many cases, governments do not respond promptly to letters and ploys demanding a change in any sector. As such, main players opt for other ways, mainly public, to push forward their agenda. Wyche (2016) found out the NFL players staged the kneeling disobedience to attract the attention of their government and many other nations (13). In so doing, President Trump is expected to act fast in redeeming the image of America. The protests’ grievances have been heard. In return, there are high possibilities of reducing the extent of racial prejudice and police harassment soon.
The movement is within the US citizens’ rights to express their opinions even in public. According to Davis (2012), every American citizen have a right to addressing social injustices in any way; provided the chosen means does not limit other people’s freedom (291). Sparking a dialogue with the state takes courage, finances and long processes marred with challenges. As such, the players exploited the easiest and affordable platform to use. Through their protest, Burgoon, Guerrero and Floyd (2016) conclude, the players have gained support from their coaches, club owners, fans and the international communities (123). America has entertained prejudice against the blacks for a long time. It is, therefore important that the matter be addressed conclusively. The football players have created a good platform on which other citizens may express their dissatisfaction too.
In the New Yorker, Felix (newyorker.com) submits that the American flag is a sign of patriotism for all citizens; everyone should feel proud and part of the state’s good will. However, racial discrimination sidelines others. In so doing, they feel out of touch and place in their own country. If what should dignify the blacks fails to live to it, there is no need of showing honor to it. The NFL players are communicating the need for the anthem to live to the expectation of every citizen. The flag is for the people, not the state; it is more American to protest peacefully against it. For the progress of the US, it is needful to solve the pending issues of honoring the blacks (Wyche 20). Patriots fight for equality of all by raising concerns and demanding their solutions.
Continuously, take a knee is the most profound mode of civic boycott (Burgoon, Guerrero, and Floyd 5). The anthem hails the free and brave citizens in the land. Agreeably, this protest is a clear sign of braveness and freedom. The defiance also asks the silent question of whether the anthem is true to its words. The police keep killing unarmed citizens with their children watching in horror (Salenius 153). Such acts bring up intensified emotions by the minority groups. Nonetheless, the police are on pay rolls to guard the very lives they kill unreasonably. Salenius (2016) think the take a knee movement educates the ignorant on the state of affairs; making the ignorant uncomfortable and drawing more support for the cause at hand (159). The movement solicits for more help and lifts the shame from few founders who were labelled unpatriotic.
On the contrary, kneeling for the anthem is a shameful defiance to the American flag. The anthem and the flag are very important symbols to the sovereignty of the US. Even when conservatives disagreed with rulings and acts signed by the former regimes, they still showed honor and love to the anthem and flag (Danver 12). The people kept standing and placing their hands on the chest as a show of honor whenever their anthem was crooned. The players have a grievance to air, but the protest is too highly escalated. Many young Americans will pick up the practice and show dishonor at will (Salenius 160). Social injustices must be addressed in the most acceptable ways.
The protest is a little abusive to the police and may end in more opposition to the black Americans. While kneeling during the anthem, Kaepernick show socks inscribed with pigs dressed like police officers. Danver (3) believes police brutality cannot be addressed through contempt and abuses. Instead, the players should facilitate awareness campaigns in which they state the criticisms with decorum. With the current nature of take a knee protests, black lives are in greater danger. The players have shown their hatred on the police force by refusing to protest against the death of a Dallas officer in July (Salenius 161). The inconsistency of this pursuit may place the players in bad light of the society.
NFL has more troubles to deal with than racial prejudice and police brutality. In the recent past, their rating was on a downward trend; an issue of great concern to the players’ professionalism (Salenius 157). Nonetheless, NFL has chosen to be defiant to the flag and anthem of their country. Americans hold highly their national anthem; anyone defying the dignity becomes an enemy. In the recent past, some of the NFL fans withdraw their engagements with the team citing the protest as the main cause (Felix, newyorker.com). There are also league issues that need non-political attention. The coaches and team owners should plan how best to solve the most important issues and be careful when engaging the government. Additionally, NFL should avoid bias when addressing anti-social behaviors. For example, there has never been clear corrective measures on their players guilty of domestic violence.
Take a knee movement is a necessary mitigating pursuit to stopping harassment and killing of blacks in the American states. Even though it has shortcomings, it is still the best managed defiance to government ignorance. The public show of dispute draws many countries’ attention to the matter; putting pressure on the US government to revise the state of things. The protest has been a litmus paper for USA’s declaration of freedom and rights of her citizens. When the president orders for the firing of free and courageous fighters, it shows that America is still far from freedom. Additionally, the movement unites many patriots for a common cause. It condemns injustices and teaches the society the power of and need for unity. Leaders must respect the spirit and words of the national anthem. Hypocrisy and negligent consideration of a national matter may only plunge the great continent into destruction.
- Burgoon, Judee K., Laura K. Guerrero, and Kory Floyd. Nonverbal communication. New York: Routledge, 2016. Print.
- Danver, Steven L., ed. Revolts, Protests, Demonstrations, and Rebellions in American History: An Encyclopedia [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2010. Print.
- Davis, Timothy. “Race and Sports in America: An Historical Overview.” Va. Sports & ENT. LJ 7 (2012): 291. Print.
- Felix, Doreen. “What will taking the Knee Mean Now?” The New Yorker. (Sept 24, 2017). https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-appearances/what-will-taking-the-knee-mean-now
- Salenius, Sirpa. “Troubling the white supremacy–black inferiority paradigm: Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown in Europe.” Journal of Transatlantic Studies 14.2 (2016): 152-163.
- Wyche, Steve. “Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem.” NFL.com (2016).