NFL kneeling isn’t about the flag

Kristen Rodriguez, Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: Kristen Rodriguez is a freshman at UNCW majoring in Political Science with a minor in International Relations. Kristen is a contributing writer for The Seahawk and writes many of the pieces featured in Political Perspectives. All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Kristen may be found on Twitter @kristen_rodd. All suggestions and inquires may be sent via email to [email protected]

Football has become the newest platform for protest. Colin Kaepernick started the trend when he began sitting on the bench during the national anthem. It has since become a highly covered protest as more players began to join in, eventually involving full teams and some team owners.

The issue with the protests have not been the protests themselves, but rather the reaction some people have been having to them and the way media coverage has completely stripped them of the message they were meant for.

These protests are not about the flag, they’re not about the anthem, they’re not about the president nor are they about the military. When Colin Kaepernick began to sit during the national anthem, he was protesting police brutality and black oppression. To try to turn it against the United States military or say that the protests are unpatriotic is simply wrong, and is another example that there is no good way to protest anything in the United States.

Like many things in life, people only see what they want to see. They focus in on what fits their already-set opinion, anything that goes against that gets set aside and ignored, or gets publicly rejected. They refuse to listen to explanations or reasons, they just stick with what they believe and run with it. Now, it must be said that this happens on all parts of the spectrum, but in this case, one side is outweighing the other.

To begin, it must be said that the way in which President Trump responded to the protests is absolutely inappropriate, and that doesn’t even begin to cover it. When there were Nazi flags being waved in Charlottesville and a woman dead, Trump took days to respond, only to say that there were “two sides to the story.”

When a football player peacefully protests in a way that didn’t result in the death or injury of any person, President Trump says, “get that son of a bitch off the field.” The President of the United States is supposed to be a servant of the people, even the ones that didn’t vote for them. They are supposed to listen to the grievances of the population and address it in a way that shows they are listening and willing to work on it. When will Donald Trump realize that?

Colin Kaepernick started his protests sitting down on the bench during the national anthem. He was approached by a fellow NFL player and Army veteran, Nate Boyer, together they came to an agreement that kneeling was a way to show respect, as well as portray their message. Kaepernick changed his protest in order to be more respectful of the anthem and its meaning, while still demonstrating his issues with the system. To say that he is “unamerican” or “unpatriotic” is more disrespectful to what our nation is supposed to stand for, freedom, than anything Kaepernick has done.

This country is at a point of divisiveness where nothing stands. There is no good way to protest, no way to get people to recognize the issues we have in our society. Where we stand right now we are broken and until we learn to listen to one another, and recognize that we may not be “the greatest country on the face of the Earth,” that is when we may be able to begin mending the wounds we have faced and move forward.

This protest was not supposed to be about the President, it was not supposed to be about the military, but because of the reactions by the media and the President’s remarks that is what it has become. It is completely taking away from the purpose of the protests and the message it was supposed to send. Our country was founded rebelling against oppressors and now we are shaming those who are fighting modern day oppression. Where is the real patriotism?