The United States promises liberty and freedom for all, using the flag as a symbol of equality, yet continues to perpetuate the cycle of oppression against people of color. Recently, as an act of protest, NFL players have been taking a knee during the national anthem, supporting the lives of African Americans.
However, in the midst of this widespread movement, the meaning behind this silent demonstration has been muddled by President Trump’s criticism.
President Trump claims that taking a knee is “not acceptable” and that NFL owners should, when faced with a player kneeling during the national anthem, “get that son of a bitch off the field.” While this silent, non-violent act is perceived as barbaric, white supremacists promoting racism in Charlottesville were characterized as “very fine people.” Based on this stark contrast of criticism, America has established a racial hierarchy that excuses white people from their blatant acts of prejudice and bigotry.
Taking a knee objects the discrimination of black people in America. It is not an act out of ignorance, but rather a personal statement for people who experience racial and social injustice on a daily basis. To claim that kneeling for the national anthem is disrespectful to what our nation stands for ignores the true meaning behind the movement itself: Black Lives Matter. It is not a stand against the country as a whole but rather a stand against the racist ideals this country was built upon that are now deeply embedded within society. To stand during the national anthem would be accepting the internalized racism that stems from slavery and the hatred against people of color.
The American flag is a symbol of freedom, but when inexplicable violence is committed against African Americans, the flag is an exploitation of such “equality.” In reality, there is a resurgence of blatant racial discrimination and people are taking a knee in order to combat inequality people of color have been facing for decades. Although taking a knee has been perceived as a threatening demonstration, the only thing that this movement threatens is the status quo. #TakeAKnee