Let’s focus on reason for taking a knee, police brutality

Abigail Slimmon, Midway Reporter

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Lately, one of the most discussed topics in the United States has been NFL players protesting during the national anthem. We should focus on the actual reason the players are protesting — that their country does not condemn deep-rooted and inexcusable racism — rather than just the fact they are protesting.

“ It is important that we make it our priority to deal with the original problem — that the police are treating people of color in this country poorly, and it needs to end … the more serious issue is that racism is alive and well, and it shouldn’t be.” ”

In September 2016, Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, sat on the bench during the national anthem because he did not want to stand up to show pride for a flag in a country that oppresses people of color. He then took his protest to the next level by kneeling. Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality against African-Americans and other minorities.

Overall, fans were saying that his actions were disrespectful to the United States, and one year later, President Trump agreed, criticizing the NFL by saying “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired.’”

As much as I think that NFL players should be allowed to practice their First Amendment rights both on and off the field, I think we shouldn’t be discussing the action of protesting but the reason behind it. The headline of every story is about whether or not they should be allowed to protest but not why they are taking a stand or how we are going to solve the issue of police brutality. It is important that we make it our priority to deal with the original problem — that the police are treating people of color in this country poorly, and it needs to end. This objective is getting pushed into the shadows by the reaction of the protests, when the more serious issue is that racism is alive and well, and it shouldn’t be.

The issue of police brutality in the United States has gotten bigger and bigger over the past five years. There are constantly protests all across the country with civilians chanting things like “Black Lives Matter”. The only way we are going to make change is if people are brave and stand up for what they think is right. If citizens have the right to march on the streets then NFL players should be able to publicize their message about police brutality while on the field.

These football players are just using their platform to stand up and fight for what they believe in. We need to stop debating whether or not it is OK that they protest in front of millions of fans, but start discussing and resolving the original reasons the protests are taking place. By the First Amendment, citizens of this country have the right to peacefully protest. This right is exercised everyday across the country, and is one of the most common ways people get their opinion out into the public. Protesting gives us the opportunity to make our voices heard, and without it many people, including myself, would feel like our voices don’t matter.