by Audrey Hertel
I am white. Because of the melanin I was given at birth, I am white. Because of a simple layer of cells, everyone gets a label of who they are. This layer of cells, that all human beings have, has been used to discriminate and separate humanity.
When America was first founded, there was an idea of “equal and inalienable rights” and rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Even though these ideals were shared as a part of the United States, slavery still existed. People of color were not treated as humans, and their human dignity was nonexistent.
Move forward to the 50s and 60s. Those American ideals of justice for all still remained. Yet, when I see pictures that represent that time, I see horrifying images of injustice and inequality against people of color.
Flash to today. I go on social media or read the news and see stories about discrimination or brutality used against people of color, mirroring those of times before. Why is it that we as a society cannot learn from past mistakes? The whole reason that we are required to take history classes in school is to learn from these mistakes, but it is obvious not many people have.
Many people believe that the events occurring today are not as bad as previous decades, but the truth is, cruel acts of discrimination and violence are happening constantly and are still relevant.
This is why they kneel.
The National Football League players have a right to do so. They have the right to kneel for their beliefs.
Obviously there are people who don’t agree with me. That may even include you, reading this. If you don’t agree with what they are doing, I want to remind you that you are entitled to your own opinion. The important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what side you are on, you should still be respectful of someone’s opinions.
If we don’t listen to what other people have to say, there will always be a division in society. I feel like that is why the idea of football players kneeling has become such a controversial issue. It is because people, on both sides, are not listening to each other, and due to this, we have not made any progress, which ultimately leads to a change.
One change, out of the many that America needs, is justice.
The pledge for our country states, “liberty and justice for all,” but how can that be true when there is so much injustice happening every single day with people of color? There are people wrongfully accused of committing crimes and teenage boys being killed because they have their hoods up. This sickens me, and I hope it makes you feel the same way.
No one, I repeat, NO ONE should be treated unfairly because of their skin color. Underneath our skin we are all the same. As we have seen with recent rallies like the one in Charlottesville, there are people out there who think the opposite.
The fact that there are people who believe in white supremacy means that justice and equality has not been ingrained well enough into American culture, and that needs to be altered.
The NFL players who kneel are trying to achieve this change by making more people question why they are doing it.
They are using the platform that they are given to bring to light issues that they feel are not talked about enough.
I will admit, when I first saw Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem, I was shocked. I thought that what he was doing was offensive to not only the flag, but to the ones who fought for it.
But then I looked into why he was doing it.
In a press conference with several sports broadcasting programs including ESPN, Kaepernick stated that he knelt as a sign of solidarity for people of color who have been victims of police brutality and those who had been wrongfully killed or victims of violence simply because of their skin color.
There are many people who think that Kaepernick and other NFL players who kneel are being disrespectful to veterans and our country’s ideals, when they are actually doing it for the opposite reason. These players know that America is a country that has the foundation of justice and they know that there are men and women fighting every day for it. They know that these values of America are the best ones, but they are not being used as they are supposed to be. As I said before, how can there be equality of all people when there isn’t?
The fact that they are kneeling during the National Anthem is important as well.
They do it then because they know that 23.7 million people are watching them.
If you were given the chance to try and advocate for change when there were 23.7 million people watching, wouldn’t you?
Questioning society ultimately leads to changes that help better it. What Kaepernick and other NFL players are doing is trying to make this country’s pledge carry truth. They are trying to make the American belief of “liberty and justice for all” a true one.