A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Opinion: National Anthem Protest

No. Neither you nor your child have to stand or put a hand on your heart for the National Anthem. In most schools, athletic events, and work places, the National Anthem is played or sung out loud. No one should be penalized if they do not participate, but they always risk having people assume the reasons for their lack of participation. In August 2016, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem to protest racism and police brutality going on in this country. Later, he gave the story behind this bold decision.

“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick stated.

Plenty of well-known figures such as Gabby Douglas, Megan Rapinoe, Brandon Marshall, Barack Obama and many more have not saluted for the Anthem. They are targeted with tough criticism more than others because of their race, even though their race has done more to make the country equal.

When many in the public see this act, it seems to ignite similar feelings across the nation. It even has an effect in high schools and colleges, where teens are taking a knee or not putting their hands across their hearts. The majority of students that protest in this way seem to be African American.

As an African American myself,  I can understand the reasoning behind these protests. It almost feels that society is going backwards. We are becoming more un-civilized than civilized. I have mixed emotions whether I will honor the National Anthem. I fully believe African Americans have the right to not salute until we feel more welcome in our homeland.

Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Jeremy Lane stayed seated while the National Anthem played before the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. Rollingstone.com quoted Jeremy Lane as saying, “I thought about it for a week or so and I just think it’s okay for me to do it,” Lane said at the time. “I wasn’t trying to say anything, just standing behind Kaepernick.” It is not only African Americans standing up for Kaepernick either. Others of various different races are supporting him as well.

Athletes will not change this until they feel like “justice is being served.” As a profile African Americans make up approximately 66 percent of the NFL and 76 percent of the NBA. Their potential is seen mostly on the field as opposed to as owners or senior management in other job fields. Another article on rollingstone.com stated that “The NFL fan base is 83 percent white and 64 percent male. These are people who pay staggering amounts of money to watch black men who have their bodies battered on the field. As long as they run and tackle, keep their helmets on, and their mouths shut, then they are acceptable to the white mainstream public. However, when black athletes choose to point their aggression not towards each other but to larger, systematic inequalities, that’s when the backlash begins.”

Under the current circumstances of police brutality and other inequalities, maybe other athletes who do not participate in these protests should find themselves a point to prove.