Opinion: NFL Kneeling Protests Are Not Only Legal, but Also Justified


Zoe Terry, Writer

Throughout history, Americans have used protest, boycotts, and even rioting to get the change we deserve. If we cannot demonstrate what we believe through peaceful protest, then what are we left to do?

As Black Americans, however, there seems to be a double standard. We are expected to sit back and wait for the change. Unarmed kids of color are being shot and killed because of the pigment of their skin. Teenagers, like you and me, are getting pulled over shot and killed by the very people who are supposed to “protect and serve.”  Even adults are getting murdered in their own apartments. And nothing seems to be changing; nothing is being done about it. So “unpatriotic” Americans have taken a stand by way of marches, sit-ins, boycotts, and taking knees to bring focus to the social injustice that continues to happen.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Collin Kaepernick explained during a press conference after he first knelt during the National Anthem. Many players have followed suit.  Duane Brown, of the Seattle Seahawks, says he stayed in the locker room during the anthem to make a statement about social injustices and will likely stay in the locker room for the anthem all season.

Later in the season, the Seattle Seahawks organization held a press conference and took a stand: “We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work toward equality and justice for all.”

The fact is that black men and women are killed at a disproportionately higher rate compared to their population demographics.  Yes, white men and women are killed more often by the police, but only because the white population is larger. When analyzing police shootings in the last few years, numbers have been decreasing, but unarmed shootings still occur. More than 90 unarmed black men were shot and killed by police in 2015While black men make up 6 % of the population, 40% of unarmed men shot to death in 2017 were black. In 2018 alone, 18 unarmed black men have been fatally shot by police officers thus far.

Many have argued that kneeling during the national anthem is down-right disrespectful and makes you unpatriotic. Carole Isham, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the writer of the national anthem stated, “It just blows my mind that somebody like [Kaepernick] would do what he does to dishonor the flag of this country and the national anthem when we have young men and women overseas fighting for this country, people that have died for this country.”

In actuality, soldiers died for our right as Americans to protest, died to protect our freedom of speech. Taking away that right — as various politicians and program owners have attempted to do — is what is truly unpatriotic.  Still others argue that kneeling during the national anthem forces a divide in our country at a time when our country should be coming together. However, I believe that the police brutality and unwarranted violence is what is causing the division in the first place.

Something needs to change. The way I see it, you can do one of two things: 1) help support and bring about changes for the better, or 2) stand with those who resist change and continue supporting injustice. The choice is up to you.