Taking a Knee; Illegal?

Daniela powell, reporter

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Police brutality. Racism. Discrimination. The three most controversial topics in our nation today. Vile images and videos of innocent African Americans getting shot to death to single mothers grieving for their children– all spread across the world. The resulting actions of various police cases against African Americans led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter activist movement in 2013. It’s no wonder African Americans today want to end the discrimination and raise up their voices against their injustices, just as Colin Kaepernick did on September 1st, 2016.


As national newspaper agencies, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, reported the shocking message Kaepernick sent in the 49ers vs Chargers game, debate outraged; “In 2016, Mr. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism, police brutality and social injustice” mentioned Kevin Draper, Julie Creswell, and Sapna Maheshwari of the New York Times.

Just as English teacher Mr.Cole agreed,”

It was absolutely acceptable, when you take a look at what the intent was behind it and what the motivating factors were, it was in reality a protest for equality and for equal treatment specifically of African Americans.””

— Douglas Cole

Later on, Nike revealed that the out-of-work NFL quarterback would be featured in its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. The Nike ad of Colin Kaepernick’s face as center focus with the words “ Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” in bold letters, ignited debate and controversy between fellow Americans and Nike consumers. For football player Isaiah Bowen,” It was a good move for Nike, for them to show that they have a stance in the situation and that they support a side”. Even experts from the Washington Post stretched a claim that, “The ad stood out as a bold statement on racial justice from Nike and as the latest demonstration of the company’s values– while companies often steer clear of taking any firm stance on race relations, Nike has claimed the fight for racial equality as a tenet of its mission.” The fact that Nike decided to go forward with this ad,”shows that they understand their own demographic and realized that it was actually an an opportunity to make money” stated Alexia Jackson.


As a result of this prominent decision, people began declaring they would boycott Nike, buying Nike apparel and posting pictures of it defaced or destroyed. To 53% of Americans, it is never appropriate to kneel during the national anthem. Victor Cruz, former New York Giants wide receiver stated to the Washington Post that, “Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today– with gun violence and things of that nature, you’ve got to respect the flag–you’ve got to stand up with your teammates–It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion.”In contrast, Bowen mentioned that, “As a football player I would put a fist up to show that I can do that” portraying how certain football players would like to stand up against inequalities, but in more appropriate ways than others. The contrasting views of how to freely express your freedom of speech in America is varied between everyone, some support taking a firm stand no matter what it is to prove a point, while others believe in a more peaceful protest with less commotion.


Though the First Amendment of the Constitution states,”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–” there are many politicians and conservatives who don’t adhere to these freedoms. Donald Trump mentioned in a Fox News Interview, “I watched Colin Kaepernick, and I thought it was terrible– And, frankly, the NFL should have suspended him for one game, and he would have never done it again– I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem. You cannot do that.”

As Americans, we each have our various perspectives on which freedoms are appropriate and how to correctly show an expression of speech, but our own president despising an American’s decision of their free speech? The injustice Trump imposes on NFL players in how they are forced to stand for their flag and National Anthem has impeded them as American citizens to protest in what they believe in. As Trump is demeaning player freedoms, coaches are no help either; It “creates an imbalance of power between coaches and players, giving too much power to coaches. It’s limiting their freedom of speech, when all they are trying to do is raise awareness by reaching the masses” mentioned by Alexia Jackson.


Once someone decides to fight against something, it should be allowed to be conveyed publicly, even if it is against the nation’s culturalist values. To people, such as Colin Kaepernick, taking a knee was the solution. Equality among our communities and minorities will not be achieved by restricting American rights. On the contrary, choosing your own statement to make against injustices will lead to utter freedom.

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