Colin Kaepernick has taken a lot of heat over his stand to sit (kneel) during the playing of the national anthem. He has gotten some support from quite a few people, but the vast majority call his act of bravery disrespectful. Many coaches and sports analysts are in agreement for what he is supporting, but feel like it doesn’t belong on the football field or in sports in general. They view it as a distraction and feel it can be detrimental to the team. Some people have taken it even further by calling his actions cowardly and racist. People say he should be thankful and appreciate what the military has done for America. It’s because of them that America is this great country. It’s because of them that we have the privilege to experience freedom. Now that statement is true, but is it necessarily the whole truth? While the military has done over and beyond the necessary requirements of keeping this country protected and safe, this country was built on much more than that. And while this country is one of the most privileged countries in the world, it is far from being completely fair and free.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written in 1814. It was written after a battle between Great Britain and America. America withstood a long attack by the British invaders and flew the American flag in triumph. It was an epic moment in American history and we still celebrate the events that took place on that night every time a major event is happening. The Banner is our nation’s anthem. It’s our pride and joy. It’s an excellent depiction of what freedom looked like from the eyes of the soldiers that were in battle that day. But that was just one day. As uplifting and patriotic “The Star-Spangled Banner” is, it in no way shape or form represents what America was back then or what it is right now. While Francis Scott Key expressed how freedom for his country looked in his eyes, millions of other people never got a chance to even experience it. Slavery was legal in America until 1865–over fifty years after this anthem was written. And even after that the country still wasn’t equal. It wasn’t until 1964 when every race was given equal rights. It’s only been a little over fifty years since then, and this country still does not represent what this banner stands for.
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. What does that even mean? Is a person considered free if they’re being targeted by police officers because of the color of their skin? Is a person considered free if they step outside their house and get shot at for no apparent reason? Kaepernick is exercising his First Amendment right by taking a kneel, but many people are bashing him for it. Should a free person be taking this much scrutiny? What exactly is freedom in America? Is it by letting murderers go free when there is clear evidence that they committed the crime? Is it when we give one race a slap on the wrist and another race years in prison? Is it when we decide that racism doesn’t even exist anymore, especially since we’ve had an African American President for the last eight years? No. Do you realize we live in a country right now where a presidential candidate can bad mouth minorities and still be in the running for the U.S. President? A disrespectful man can be deemed “leader” of the United States, but a man taking a stand for the mistreatment of minorities is deemed the complete opposite. To go on a quick tangent, we live in a country where killing dogs gets you two years in prison (Mike Vick). You also get two years for accidentally shooting yourself in the leg (Plaxico Burress). Yes dogfighting is wrong; it’s a crime. Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a crime too. Both deserved a consequence for their actions, but c’mon man! There are actual human beings getting killed on camera for doing absolutely nothing. The killers are walking away free as if they just stole candy from the corner store. Is a dog really worth more than an African American life? According to the outcomes of Michael Vick and George Zimmerman they are. That’s disrespectful! If this is really what freedom is all about, Colin Kaepernick has every right in the world to do what he is doing. Why should he stand if freedom is being treated like a joke to the lives of minorities?
People really need to understand what Kaepernick is trying to express. Kaepernick isn’t against the military. Kaepernick isn’t against the flag. Kaepernick isn’t against America. Kaepernick is against injustice. People are spending so much time focusing on the outer part of this issue like: respect for the flag, respect for the banner, respect for the military, patriotism, etc. The inner part of this issue is what really matters. Everyone can make the decision to stand for the national anthem, say every single word of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, cover their heart with their right hand, and do every other kind of patriotic act, but does that really change anything? Injustices will keep on happening. This “free” country will still be in bondage. It’s sad that someone has to kneel during the national anthem for a lot of people to even realize that there is a problem with the justice system. It’s even more sad that the decision for Kaepernick to kneel is making more headlines than the injustices that have been happening repeatedly. Everyone has a problem with him kneeling but no one has a problem with innocent souls dying. It’s so sad. Change needs to come. We really need to take some time out and remove the pride that we have for our country. It’s great, but it isn’t nearly as great as we make it appear. There’s so many problems happening in this country even beyond race. We really need to humble ourselves. It’s only after that where this country can really be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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