This post in is honour of Colin Kaepernick and the people who are currently participating in civil rights activities to highlight the injustices around the world.
Whilst Black History Month is a great time to remember civil rights leaders of the past who fought for equality and justice, we cannot forget that racism and inequality still exist today.
You may have seen pictures on the internet or in the news of many sports people kneeling when the American national anthem is being played. This silent protest started with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who chose to use his platform to highlight the injustice suffered by African American’s at the hands of the police.
At first, Kaepernick sat down whilst the anthem was playing. Not many people noticed or cared. In August 2016, US Army veteran Nate Boyer convinced Colin Kaepernick to kneel, rather than sit so Kaepernick started to kneel.
This was a far more iconic pose that did get noticed and also prompted other players to ‘take the knee’ during the playing of the anthem. This protest has been likened to the one Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman made during the 1968 Olympics.
Explaining his decision, Kaepernick said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people of colour.
“To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder.”
Police brutality has become an incredibly polarising and touchy issue in American life. This has come as a result of repeated videos showing police shooting and killing unarmed black men, which have been posted online and gone viral — illustrating the brutality that black people in America must contend with when dealing with some police officers, who often do not serve any prison time for pulling the trigger.
Despite Kaepernick explaining to news outlets exactly what his protest was about, people who claim to be patriots have labelled this form of protest anti-American. With many Americans arguing that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to American servicemen and women. This argument is being used to effectively shut down any discussion about the reason for the protest.
The US president, Trump decided to join the debate, calling the NFL players who took a knee ‘son’s of bitches’. This prompted even more celebrities and regular people around the world to join the protest.
— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) September 27, 2017
Shutting down uncomfortable discussions has become the new normal when people don’t want to acknowledge that all is not right with the world. Whether it be racism, sexism or LGBTQ rights, there are people in denial who just don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable. Of course there are also those who want to keep the status quo as it benefits them.
— Hertha Berlin (@HerthaBSC_EN) 14 October 2017
Thankfully there are millions more who want to make the world a better place. Those are the ones who will be on the right side of history.