Kneeling for the anthem protests racial injustice productively

When I think about what the American flag stands for, my mind starts racing.

There is an endless amount of symbolism surrounding the flag of our nation. However, I believe that the majority of people with this thought will have a very simple answer: freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. Freedom to petition. Freedom of speech. Members of the media and, notably, the President of the United States, have criticized professional athletes for exercising this freedom.

Despite the seemingly never ending controversy, I believe professional athletes undoubtedly have the right to do whatever they wish during the national anthem. After all, it is a free country and it is 2017. People have the right to choose their actions.

Players across the country, mostly in the National Football League, are all standing (or kneeling) for one purpose: racial injustice. This hot button topic is not about support for our beautiful nation.

That is the point where many disagree. Some state that the athletes who choose to kneel are disrespecting the flag, and therefore the American troops. I may not be an expert on the army, but I do know what our soldiers fight for. They fight for our freedom. And guess what? That includes freedom of speech. The standing versus kneeling debate is not about love for the United States of America. It’s about the cruelty and inequity taking place inside the country.

“Kneeling during the national pledge has everything to do with race,” said Stephen Colbert, a late night T.V. host. “Those players are protesting racial injustice. They aren’t protesting the American flag.”

The movement is currently picking up speed, and nothing seems to be stopping it. Since the beginning of during the third week of the 2017 NFL football season, over 200 players have kneeled or showed some sort of protest during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers chose to stay in the locker room during the anthem. The media’s opposition to these protests does not make players hesitate to take a knee and protest. If anything, it fuels them to act out.

The division, the hate, and the argument in our country only gives athletes more of a reason to take a knee. High government officials speaking out against athletes taking a knee will not stop this movement. Personally, I see no foreseeable end in the future for this protest, at least until there is no racial injustice in these somewhat dis-united states of America.

Sadly enough, ending racial injustice in our country is easier said than done. The division and injustice in our nation is due to intolerant people who are not ready for change. These people cannot accept minorities protesting for equality and rights. Athletes have the right to kneel, yet they’re not able to accept these actions.

Throughout the media’s continuous exposure of this conflict, everyone wants to know how this fiasco will play out. Well, there’s no way to know. But there’s a way to know what’s right and what isn’t.

Criticizing the players will not stop them from kneeling. The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, speaking out against it, will not stop them from kneeling. The President of the United States tweeting out against the NFL and anyone that supports the protesting players, will not stop them from kneeling. The Vice President of the United States leaving the sports games unamused and disappointed when a player kneels will not stop any such protest.

On the other hand, maybe the protests will slow down. Maybe they’ll die out after a certain period of time. Whatever the future holds, it’s in the hands of the players. No one can tell them what to do. Not me, not you, and not the President of the United States. Athletes of the NFL and all other professional sports have the right and freedom to do what they wish during the national anthem.

I can only hope that they keep exercising their right of speaking their mind, and don’t let anyone tell them otherwise.