To kneel or not to kneel?

To kneel or not to kneel?

Leila Stewart, Sports Editor

To kneel or not to kneel, THAT is the question.


For some, the answer is simple. If your views align with President Trump’s you may be thinking, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now!’”


Or perhaps I should mention President Trump’s idea that NFL owners should be “afraid of their players.” In my eyes, “players” is synonymous with “black men.” Over 70% of NFL athletes are black after all.


I can only speak from a black perspective and I certainly cannot talk about the side who reasons that black men are the type of people you should be afraid of, for that is something I will never have the full capability to understand. I am acknowledging my bias in this situation.


Perhaps you are part of the side that sees kneeling as intolerable and you feel threatened by the players who do. If so, I would like to challenge you with this question: what is it about black people having the same rights and protections that white people have had for centuries that makes you feel so afraid?


We have to consider the different perspectives on this issue and understand that our first amendment protects ALL citizens right to freely express themselves- even if their opinions do not match President Trump’s.


If you are like me, the answer as to whether or not to kneel is not a straightforward one or an easy decision to make.


I believe that the controversy shouldn’t lie within the fact that people are kneeling. What should be controversial is the amount of disrespect that comes out of our administration’s mouth on a daily basis. What should be controversial is the image of America that we are portraying to other countries; that we are ignorant and unable to acknowledge the needs and rights of minorities.  We should be talking about the fact that we can’t even come together for a few hours for a football game.


A person should not be questioned as to why they kneel, they should be questioned as to why they feel the need to.


In 2017 alone, 748 people have been killed by a police officer as of today and we still have 87 days until New Years. That’s two to three people a day. 41 percent of the people killed were minorities- 53 percent of that group being black- and 14 percent were unidentified. 45 percent of the victims were white, but as of 2016, white people make up 61.3 percent of the American population. The reality is that more of the black population is affected by police brutality. This is not to say that those white lives don’t matter because all lives do. This is just the fact that black lives are more at risk.


What may lead some people into kneeling is that we are still protesting the same concept of civil rights and police brutality that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died for 49 years ago. Don’t be angry that people are doing so, be mad that our country has been prejudiced all 88,116 days of its existence.


My hope for American citizens is not that we all kneel, but that when we each make our own decisions to stand for something, we stand for a country that does not oppress people of color, an administration that does not excuse or to an extent encourage police brutality, and that we stand in respect for a President who condemns white supremacy.


There is the argument that the line between politics and sports has been crossed. However, it is unrealistic for people to think that they can watch black men on television for their pure entertainment without the value of their actual lives being taken into consideration.


As the daughter of a football coach, I’ve seen that as much as the sport can consume you, it will never take away from who you truly are. NFL players are not just for American amusement- they are men with families, with a past, and with dreams for the future. If you cannot be respectful of their decisions and their experiences in this country, then perhaps that says more about you than it does about them.


Whether you feel you would kneel in this situation or not, do not fight with each other… fight for each other. All of the energy going into sending hate mail to players, spewing out offense commentary, and defending the flag could go into helping all Americans feel that our country is a place we can all be proud of; a place we can stand for.