What the NFL Protests Really Mean

DISCLAIMER: The viewpoints voiced in this article do not reflect the political views of Her Campus UConn as a whole, but instead reflect the views of the individual author.

This past Sunday I went to the volleyball game on campus. As usual, before the game started, someone sang the national anthem and we faced the flag. I immediately felt funny. I looked around at the people in attendance and everyone was standing and had their hands to their chest to salute. As this was going on I couldn’t help but feel the urge to sit down. The thought of doing that made my stomach turn. Would I get booed out of the gym? Would people give me dirty looks throughout the game? Would I be front page of the school paper? All these questions ran through my mind in that 4-minute period.

           

 NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick had the courage to do what I didn’t. He took a knee in protest during the national anthem throughout his 2016 season. He faced tons of backlash from the public, saying that he was disrespecting the veterans, troops and this country. Recently, the president (and I use that term extremely loosely) said at a rally last Friday, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired!'" Many athletes and celebrities spoke out about his comments.  Then, on Sunday, hundreds of players locked arms in solidarity, knelt on the field and remained in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem.

What people fail to grasp is that these protests were NEVER about America. Colin started kneeling in protest because of police brutality, white supremacy and systematic oppression. This country constantly oppresses black people and other people of color. There have been too many incidents where a black person has been shot and the person responsible didn’t face any repercussions. Police have killed 309 black people in 2016 and 207 in 2017.  In regards to white supremacy, our so-called commander in chief called the white supremacists “fine people” after the tragedy in Charlottesville. Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter movement has been called a violent, racist hate group when in reality they are bringing awareness to the injustices that people of color face in this country.

As a person of color living in this country, either myself, or someone I love can be killed for no reason other than the color of our skin. I have to live with that fear everyday. I’m grateful for these protests. I’m grateful that Kaepernick took a stand for people like me. I’m grateful that he took a stand for me. Donald Trump has sent out 25 tweets since Sunday (yes, I counted) bashing the protests and NFL. Maybe he should use his Twitter fingers for something more useful, like, I don't know, maybe trying not to set the country on fire.

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