By: Dakota Bonds
Every American has their First Amendment right of free speech, they’re born with it, which means anyone can express how they feel as long as they’re not disobeying the law. Therefore, someone kneeling during the National Anthem is them expressing that right and they shouldn’t be penalized for it. Unfortunately, that right seems to only apply to non-people of color.
America is no amature to controversy involving African Americans who are minding their business and a non-person of color butting their head in it . Black athletes peacefully protesting the National Anthem are just another example of that. Former NFL 49ers quarterback and current free agent, Colin Kaepernick, caused controversy when a picture of him sitting during the National Anthem at an NFL preseason game went viral. Kaepernick later met with the media to explain why he sat. “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s a significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to, I’ll stand,” said Kaepernick, but half of America still doesn’t get it (“ All the Athletes Who Joined Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest”).
The majority of Americans recently became aware of the “forgotten” three verses of the National Anthem in 2016. The third verse sparked a very much needed conversation. “Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave” (“History of the National Anthem “). Many people feel that this portion of the anthem has a very racist tone to it, and from looking at the background and history of Francis Scott Key, they might be right. Francis Scott Key was a lawyer who witnessed the British attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 . Key supported sending free blacks, not slaves, back to Africa. He was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time (“History of the National Anthem “).
Refusing to stand for the National Anthem is considered disrespectful to some past and present members of the military, which is understandable, but Army Special Forces veteran and former Seattle SeaHawks NFL player Nate Boyer had a conversation with Kaepernick and gave him his stamp of approval to kneel instead of sitting during the anthem, which later became Kaepernick’s trademark.
The profiling, police brutality, racism, and oppression that people of color endure is the reason why hundreds of Americans are kneeling, not to be disrespectful to the nations military. The Star Spangled Banner and the U.S. flag represent the United States as a whole, but the degrading of minorities shows that this country only cares about a certain group of people. Taking a knee was never about the flag, it’s about the system’s unjust ways that people of color have endured for far too long.