This past weekend the NFL, and supporters of free speech and our right to peacefully protest, served a collective punch to Donald Trump. If you missed the explosion of the #takeaknee movement started by our hero the still unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first took a knee to protest police violence towards African Americans, don’t worry, there are photos everywhere online! Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, veterans, and NFL players and coaches totaling the hundreds, either took a knee or locked arms in solidarity against an onslaught of White Supremacist-fueled attacks against players who protest by our President. And of all the truly inspiring photos, there was one that really resonated with me of a high school student named Kamryn.
This is Kamryn, a student who has committed herself to #TakeAKnee before her games in protest of racial injustice. According to her mom: “Though ostracized and publicly shamed by her teammates, my daughter will continue to #TakeAKnee. Hate and cultural insensitivity are taught at home and now the White House! I will admit as her mother, it’s very hard to hear how mean and hateful her teammates are. Refusing to touch her hand, disengaging while on the court and publicly standing away from her as she kneels. I’ve even been told by the school staff that parents have made ‘inappropriate gestures’ toward her in the stands. Through it all my kid SMILES while my heart breaks, because I thought the world would be better for her!
I couldn’t help but think of myself when I was in high school, and how many times I stood for the National Anthem or raised my hand to pledge allegiance to a flag that I knew didn’t stand for me. All the times I did it against my personal beliefs because I didn’t want to make waves. Like life, some things just are, and this is what you do. We stand for the flag because we are spoon-fed from the time that we are kids that this country is the BEST in the world. But why is it the best? They fight against raising the minimum wage, universal health care, they profit by filling prisons with Black and Latino bodies, the police murder us at will, and now they want to take away our freedom of speech. Is it the best because a certain segment of society, the white segment, can live freely with access to all the finer things?
So I’m looking at this girl and the courage that it takes for her to take a knee against racism, against those who are ostracizing her because to them she’s being ungrateful and disruptive, and while I was down at first, now I see hope. I may not have taken a knee then, but I can take one now. I can take a knee by calling my Senators and Congressman when it’s time to vote on issues that impact us, I can take a knee by boycotting products and companies that support this administration, I can take a knee by calling out ignorance when I see it, especially when it’s geared towards people in disenfranchised groups-Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, Women, The Poor, Gay & Transgender- and I can take a knee by waking up everyday and living my life according to what I believe is right, not what is ‘expected’ of me. I refuse to wake up in another 20 years, just to realize that I’ve been duped. Again.
When was the last time you took a knee?