Why We Kneel: The Story Behind the NFL Protests

Passion, grit, touchdowns, bullshit penalties, a GOAT, unity, divide, and political activism. Where? You might ask. On the field of football stadiums across the nation. If you’ve been keeping up with current events, then you’ve probably heard about the recent NFL protests. It all started last season when the 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided to remain seated during the National Anthem. He did this in protest against state-sanctioned lethal violence against black people. With police brutality and racial injustices still on the rise, this movement gained popularity this current season. This movement gained even more popularity after President Trump delivered some choice words on the matter: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’” This issue has sparked conflict and divide among our country with many Americans on Trump’s side. Which makes me call to question whether they know the real meaning behind taking the knee. I myself was guilty of not knowing the truth behind the protests which drew me to do some investigating, journalism style.

Recently, St. Mike’s held its own kneeling demonstration outside of our Durick Library. I decided to go around and ask people why they were kneeling. Many of them reflected on the fact that, in this day and age, every person should be equal regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation and that we must take a stand and stop injustices before they come all too normal in our society. I even got a chance to talk to the organizer of the demonstration, Melanie Castillo, and ask her why she was kneeling and what she hoped to accomplish from this demonstration. “It is our constitutional right to. We are kneeling in solidarity to those who are suffering through issues of injustice, police brutality, the levels of oppression people are experiencing,” she said. “[Kneeling will] increase people's sense of awareness, so that people are more aware and engaged and enact social change in a positive way.”What I noticed from both sides of this conflict is that there is a lack of curiosity and listening to one another. People would rather bash each other to no end than respectfully listen and compromise. These protesters should acknowledge what pain these protests are inflicting some Veterans across our nation who sacrificed so much for our country. But the people against these protests should acknowledge the pain and injustices that our fellow Americans suffer through on the daily, based solely on a darker pigment of skin.They aren’t blatantly disrespecting the flag, they are just trying to take a stand and get people to really talk about these racial issues. It is their right and our county was built by people with similar ideologies. Even the Dallas Cowboy players stated that they wanted to stand, but unity and equality was more important to them.

Tom Brady, the highest profile NFL player, friend of Trump, and of course the GOAT, stood with locked arms and his hand over his heart these past few games. He later spoke out in disagreement to the president and urged people to respect others’ opinions and voice disagreements in peaceful and respectful manner.

I am not asking you to support those who kneel, but I ask that you not condemn them.

We must stay united, we don’t have to necessarily have agree with each other, but we cannot let these issues further divide us as they have done so in the past. I am not asking you to silence your opinions, but I do ask that, before you start WWIII on people's Facebook feeds, you first take the time to research and look at differing perspectives with an open mind and a compassionate heart. So, when you do start to type that post, you will be voicing your opinions in a respectful way. Maybe then we can work our way to finally making America pretty great.