In an attempt to make a statement towards racial inequality and discrimination, players of the National Football League have extended the act of kneeling during the national anthem. This gesture is a spin-off of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and NFC Champion Colin Kaepernick, who boldly remained seated during the national anthem during the 2016 preseason.
However, after a discussion with former Army Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks long-snapper Nate Boyer, Kaepernick switched his stance to a kneel, as a sign of respect to the men and women who risk their lives for this country. The conversation spawned from an open letter Boyer wrote to Kaepernick regarding his inability to even understand what racial injustice is about, but also taking great pride in fighting for and defending this country in order for people of all colors to at least try to reconcile.
Here is an excerpt of the letter.
“I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.
Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it. When I told my mom about this article, she cautioned me that “the last thing our country needed right now was more hate.” As usual, she’s right.
There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind.
I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying … De Oppresso Liber.”
Being proactive towards his purpose, Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million of his salary and all earnings from sales of his jersey to community organizations in order to increase awareness and bring racial justice. In one year’s time, he has reached $900,000 of that goal, donating to organizations such as East Harlem Charter School DREAM, Justice League NYC, United We Dream, and Coalition for the Homeless.
Now, however, the original intent of this cause is dangerously being strayed as a result of the NFL players vs. the nation’s President, Donald Trump.
This season, the number of players who are kneeling have become significantly higher, with even the Dallas Cowboys kneeling collectively as a team during a recent game, led by owner Jerry Jones. This team comradery was received with a chorus of boos.
Trump was adamantly against the action, and made his stance clear with some vitriolic words.
In the heat of this divide, the quest for unity must not be forgotten. Psalm 133:1 states, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” This scripture is very clear that God’s people must be a unified front in order to cure the ills of this nation. Otherwise, there will continue to be individuals and groups alike making statements with no healthy results.
Activist L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith of the Black Youth Project 100 believes that this new wave of kneeling “means absolutely nothing,” and has “become very basic and watered down.” She also added that whites who are not a part of a white supremacist movement “like to hop on board a particular cause that allows them to dissociate themselves from racist American history.”
Whether one agrees with the views of Ailith or not, the harsh comments of Trump is certainly not helping the cause. Just like the exchange between Kaepernick and Boyer, which allow both to gain an understanding of each other’s concerns, change occurs when knowledge is gained.