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The Blue & Gray Press | December 17, 2017

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Why taking a knee is a step forward

Why taking a knee is a step forward

By EMILY GROTTLE

Throughout America’s history, there have been movements and protests calling attention to racial discrimination in the United States, many of which moved this country forward, even if by inches. But what makes people begin to speak out now? Or has it always been that way and no one wants to notice? What makes 2016 such a pivotal year in race relations, and what is making people speak out now?

Perhaps it is the 754 police shootings in 2016 alone, according to the Washington Post, as well as police brutality that is constantly in the news, specifically the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray that occurred just a few years apart.

Perhaps it is the Black Lives Matter movement, which started in 2013 and is still growing. Or is it the riots and protests and shattered families and communities we see on the news after police shootings. No matter how you look at it, people are noticing and taking a stand against the poor race relations in the United States.

Colin Kaepernick is just one other example. Kaepernick, adopted by two white parents, grew up in a predominately white neighborhood in California and decided to take a knee during the Nation Anthem at a preseason game, a protest that created much controversy.

While some say he is unpatriotic and against the military, others applaud his bravery for standing up for the lives of minorities who are mistreated every day. Although Kaepernick grew up with all the privilege of an upper-middle- class, cisgender male, he calls attention to racial injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem.

In fact, his stance has turned into a movement for many athletes. The entire Indian Fever women’s basketball team took a knee before their game against Phoenix, students at UNC Charlotte raised their fists and even a member of the Southern Methodist University marching band knelt while she played on the field during the National Anthem. Clearly this is an ongoing movement, and the significance of taking a knee during the anthem created specifically to celebrate our country, is growing.

The message is truly a statement on racial injustice against all minorities. It proves that there are people who are unhappy with the state our country is in, and many people need to swallow our pride and recognize it.

However, some still choose to see this movement as disrespectful. Unfortunately, race is a taboo topic for most Americans. And if it stays that way and is never talked about, race relations will only become more whitewashed; much like our history.

Although most of this generation of Americans is not responsible for the enslavement and gross mistreatment of minorities throughout history, it is important to recognize that it did happen. We cannot just ignore history, but we can work to change the social construct of race and really take a look at what is happening now.

Of course we need to take baby steps. A gesture such as Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem is only one small way of calling attention to race relations in our society.