#TakeAKnee: Is it so wrong to exercise your rights?


M. Menefee , Staff Writer

[Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions or beliefs of the Red Oak Middle School community.]

Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, inspired (and offended) people  when he decided to express his disappointment with police brutality issues by kneeling during the national anthem.

Of course we all have are different opinions about the way he and others are protesting,  but in MY opinion I think it’s not even bad. As a matter of fact, I think it’s great. Before you decide you hate me, please hear me out.

I have family members who are police officers, in the military, and my 19-year-old uncle is in training to be in the Air Force, so I completely understand both sides of the situation. But I feel like a lot of people are taught to have a voice and to speak up for what they believe in. Colin Kaepernick has been speaking up for what he believes in even if that means he doesn’t have a job at the age of 29. In a locker room press conference Kaepernick said, “I’ll continue to sit, I’m going to continue to sit with the people that are being oppressed.” 

…they are standing up for those who are not getting fair treatment.”

Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that he doesn’t have a job just because he is doing what he thinks is right. (I can’t prove that this is why he’s not employed right now) Of course, you can get punished for doing what you think is right, and everyone may not agree with you. But then again he could do this on his own time and that is kind of unprofessional.

Why are people kneeling in the first place?

See, people have misconceptions about the story behind the recent kneeling during the national anthem. The reason Colin Kaepernick is taking a knee is because of unfair police brutality against black men, women, children (people of color in general). In a locker room interview in 2016, Kaepernick said there are a lot of things that need to change, one of these being police brutality.

“There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable,” Kapernick explained. Kneeling was always about calling attention to those law enforcement officers who mistreat or hurt the very people that they are supposed to protect and serve. “This is something that has to change. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people, that’s not right,” Kaepernick said.

It has never been about disrespecting our first responders. Kaepernick is voicing HIS opinion which is exercising his right to freedom of speech and we are able to do that because we are in America. 

I feel like people are just not understanding why they (athletes) are doing this. They aren’t doing this because they hate our military or because they don’t respect our firefighters. That’s not the case at all. The athletes and other people who are protesting are doing this because they are standing up for those who are not getting fair treatment.

The first professional NFL athlete EVER to gain media attention for kneeling during the national anthem was Seth DeValve, a white person. In fact he and a dozen more people on his team kneeled and prayed because of racial injustice. It seems no one said anything negative about it. Interesting.

I’m not trying to be racist or anything, but I personally feel that this is all such a big deal because Kaepernick is black. What if Kaepernick was praying? Would he still have received some heat, or is it just because he is protesting?

NBA athlete Lebron James said President Trump is trying to use sports to divide our country.  I completely agree because the president’s tweet stated, “The only thing you (the fans) can do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium.”

Other politicians are voicing their opinions, too.

“There are gonna be a lot of folks who do stuff we don’t agree with,” former President Obama said. “But as long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.” He is right. Not everyone will agree with what you’re doing and that’s ok. Kaepernick knew what he was getting himself into and he knew he was going to face some consequences.

That’s what people are just not understanding. And social media isn’t making this situation any better. My thing is if you don’t know why someone is doing something, then don’t comment on it. I’m not just talking about this issue — it can apply to anything. I feel like more professional athletes want to do something about it, but they are scared they might get fired for getting involved.

I appreciate the Cowboys and what they did at their  game. They came out onto the field and ALL of the players (as well as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys) took a knee and locked arms which is showing unity, but they stood up for the national anthem. It’s like a win-win situation for both sides even if you don’t agree with what they are doing. But like I said, it comes with a price. Shortly after that game (and after the president’s advice by Tweet) Jerry Jones decided he will not allow any Cowboys player to kneel during the anthem. If they decide to do it anyway, then they will be punished, and potentially fired.

A lot of people in the community are taking a stand on this issue, including Friendship West Baptist Church (FWBC) in Dallas. Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III and others joined him by kneeling at the Dallas Police Department headquarters.  “We (those who protested) affirm and stand with Colin Kaepernick’s initial stand for justice in response to police brutality,” FWBC said during the peaceful protest.

“This stand isn’t for me; this thing wasn’t because I feel like I’m being put down,” Kaepernick said. “This stand is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard.”

To me, Colin Kaepernick as a voice for the voiceless. He has risked  his job, the NFL career he’s worked hard to earn, just to stand up for what he believes in.

[Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions or beliefs of the Red Oak Middle School community.]