By J. Ernanny
This protest has its origins in August of 2016, and the movement still is in effect to this day. It is about how professional athletes, primarily African Americans, silently protest social inequality and police brutality. In 2016, an American Football quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided to refuse to stand during the national anthem, sitting down instead, sparking similar actions by hundreds of other athletes. This move sparked huge amounts of controversy, as this was seen by some as an action which disrespected the US flag, armed forces, and by others as an exercise of his constitutional rights to protest.
This first protest sparked huge amounts of controversy and public figures have responded to it either positively or negatively. Barack Obama, former president of the USA (current president at that time), has said that Kaepernick was “Exercising his
constitutional right to protest” about some very present issues. On the other hand, Mike Pence, current VP of the USA, said that he “Will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our National Anthem”.
Even though Kaepernick was heavily criticized, he still exercised his constitutional rights and continued his protest. He did change his form of protesting though, and decided to kneel down instead of sitting down, as he claimed this was a better way to “show the much-earned respect and admiration the US Marines need”.
The movement grew in 2017. Instead of only some players kneeling down, most NFL players and the owner of their specific team started interlocking their arms with one another to show their support towards each other’s backgrounds and ethnicities. Overall, the new protests garnered much more support than it had during its early stages. However, not everyone saw this change as an improvement. The owner of the Houston Texans (an NFL team), Bob McNair, claimed that the leaders must not “let the inmates run the prison”, directly calling his players inmates and the NFL a prison.
Donald Trump is notorious for his outrageous comments and unpopular opinions. His position regarding these protests was what could be expected of him. The President has continually criticized the players, owners and the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, for their actions or lack thereof. He has consistently claimed that the NFL is a “haemorrhaging league” and also condemned the NFL because the athletes’ actions “continue without penalty”. He has also repeatedly called for the dismissal towards the players that refuse to stand up and respect the national anthem.
Kaepernick is still an active player but he isn’t signed to a team at the moment. The San Francisco 49ers let him go due to his deteriorating skills but many think the anthem protest had a lot to do with his dismissal. Recently, the player has been trying to find a team and has had some interest. Two weeks ago, the Seattle Seahawks offered him an opportunity to showcase his talents in a workout. They had one condition however, Kaepernick had to stand during the anthem. Kaepernick refused and the team’s representatives said that Kaepernick shouldn’t bother come to their workout. This sacrifice turns him into a kind of martyr as he is sacrificing his own dreams and future for the improvement of dreams and futures of all people in the US. He is a role model not only for other athletes but for the younger generations of Americans as he has repeatedly shown how an initiative as simple as the one he took, can change the world.