Just Do Something by// Kami Geron

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Stand or kneel, I don’t care, just fix the issue

“don’t let the love for a symbol overrule the love for your fellow human.” ~Arian Foster, Miami Dolphins

If you haven’t been under a rock you know what’s been in the headlines. Every day a new story about the entire kneeling predicament rushes the feeds…and today is no different. Today we’re investigating the issue because this isn’t as simple as a wrong and right. There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution, so shouldn’t we start working to find one?

The History 

Peaceful protests have been around for as long as we have been able to talk. Okay, maybe not exactly, but you get my point. There will always be people who believe what they say is right and what you say is wrong. When you think about these types of protests, you can only think of things in our news feeds: Charlottesville, where it gets out of hand.

Contrary to turning violent and not getting a task done, some of the most influential protests that have been peaceful were during 1913-1988. These protests were as follows:

1913Suffrage Parade, still important today letting people know that asking for freedom isn’t a crime
“We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.” – Emmeline Pankhurst
1930The Salt March, India gained independence from Britain after 17 years of protests
“Nonviolence is an intensely active force when properly understood and used.” – Mohandas Gandhi
1955Montgomery Bus Boycott, Removed segregation on public buses
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — Rosa Parks
1960’sDelano Grape Boycott, 5-year strike that ended exploitative abuse of American farm workers
“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of humanity, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non violent struggle for justice.” – Cesar Chavez
1988Singing Revolution, Estonia no longer ruled under the Soviet Union
“Land of my fathers, land that I love / I’ve given my heart to her / I sing to you, my supreme happiness / My flourishing Estonia!” – lyrics from Mu Isamaa, On Minu Arm

Now for the current issues at hand. In mid-August 2016 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem.  Why?

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppressed black people and people of color.”
“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.”

The initial reaction: nothing. Kaepernick’s attempts weren’t noticed until the third game. After meeting with media on August 28, Kaepernick responded that he was doing it “…to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

And on September 1 the quarterback was joined by his safety Eric Reid in sitting. This was then turned to kneeling after a meeting with former Green Beret and NFL snapper Nate Boyer. Kaepernick then donated $1 million to charities that focused on racial issues.

Support spread to the Seattle Seahawks Jeremy Lane. Lane wasn’t saying anything special in his choice to sit, he was supporting his colleague Kaepernick. Next, it left the NFL and entered the world of NWSL as Megan Rapinoe knelt for Kaepernick…and that was unacceptable .

Before her September 7 game against the Washington Spirit, the Spirit rescheduled the anthem so the teams were in the locker room and no protest could be viewed.

“We respectfully disagree with her method of hijacking our organizations events to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal — albeit worthy — cause.”

Rapinoe was very angry  and claimed the sports owner for the Spirit was homophobic. But Rapinoe wasn’t out of the fire. U.S. Soccer expressed disappointment and pleaded that players and coaches use the time when the anthem is played “to reflect upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country.”

Going back to NFL, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee. Now, at this point in your reading you may just think – wow, another player. Let me point this out, he said:

“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America, I’m against social injustice.”

Now, reread that quote. All these athletes have supported one another and one cause: social injustice. They are saying even though professional athletes are considered the best and put on pedestals we know what’s happening to people not in the spotlight. They simply want people to be who they wish to be: different. Can you go outside and know you won’t get killed because your skin color or religion or sexuality or anything similar?

“Kaep, he’s using his platform how he wants to use it, to reach the masses,” Marshall said. “We have freedom of speech. But then we use our platform, and we get bashed for it. It’s almost like they want us to only go with the grain. And once we go against the grain, it’s an issue.”

Marshall was then stripped of sponsorship from two groups.

Now I know, your minds are blown with how many people are berated for peaceful protests and frankly how long this article is. Fun fact: I’m just getting started. To sum up whats happened, protesting started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick went from sitting to kneeling, to linked arms and raised fists across many sports and ages.

The Evolution

This new way of protesting has swept over all sports, players stood and knelt together in mutual support of different ideas. Now singers, actors, even members of Congress kneel to protest. To protest peacefully. Peaceful protests never last long, and this representation has gotten bashed since its inception as disrespect.

lack of respect or courtesy.
show a lack of respect for; insult.

Yes, lazy arguers I gave you the definition. This entire controversy is all based on how you view this one word. Now, you could refer back to the quotes from the starters of this movement. Their views were not to disrespect the symbol or members who embody what is the American flag. They say they wanted to raise awareness to problems they deemed very important and needed to be addressed. The other side of this spectrum is that it is an unspoken rule to stand for the National Anthem.

More topics were brought into the spotlight, not just oppressed minorities. Trump’s presidency, handling of political matters beyond borders, etc. has everyone deciding to rest their legs. A team of 8-year-olds knelt, with a thorough teaching moment per coach Orlando Gooden.

“As long as we know why we’re doing it, I don’t have a problem with any of it.”
“What I teach my kids is love, integrity, honesty, fairness and respect for their boundaries.”

“Everybody wants to talk about how this is disrespectful to the American flag,” Garfield coach Joey Thomas said. “That’s a smokescreen. How about we talk about the issues people are kneeling and fighting for? If we could start addressing the issues and finding solutions to the issues, we won’t have to kneel.”

The Now

People are doing something about this protesting, but it’s the wrong thing. Threats are being made, solutions are not being offered. IHSAA referees have threatened players before games that if they kneel they will be given automatic fouls all the way to disqualifications. They are supposed to being doing a job: managing sports games. A referee shortage has been growing because they don’t want to be criticized, yet they set themselves up to be criticized for something unrelated to the game.

Indiana official Jim Saddler is suspended for 18 months after walking out of a North Central volleyball match after one of the players knelt during the anthem. The 67-year-old Air Force Veteran was so enraged that he turned his flag into the table and walked out. Though he didn’t lose his temper towards anyone, he is very upset with himself.

“What they did just upset me so badly that I just could not stay there,” Saddler said. “(But) I know it’s her constitutional right to do what she wants to do. And it wasn’t fair to the other girls who were standing and respecting the flag. After I thought about it, you know, sometimes it takes you a little time to sit down and think about stuff and what you did. And after I thought about it, I would never ever do that again. I would never break a contract.”

The Future

This protesting may never end. The way athletes get involved might. According to, it is the commissioner’s job to handle the protest situation. Instead of firing everyone like they were on a game-show, athletes should be allowed to use their platform to convey messages pre-anthem. The Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys did pre-anthem options: a video relaying their message and kneeling united.

While President Donald Trump may waste 140 characters slandering groups instead of tackling the problem, we the people can rise to the occasion. Kenny Stills from the Miami Dolphins stopped kneeling during the anthem because it was taking focus away from the reasons for the kneeling.  The distortion and distraction from players true meaning is creating the pocket for the perfect solution: we just have to run with it.

Every day a new story about the entire kneeling predicament rushes the feeds. Today we’re investigating the issue because this isn’t as simple as a wrong and right. There doesn’t seen to be an easy solution, so shouldn’t we start working to find one? My fellow Americans it is the time to take back our country, one that was founded to give people opportunities that were so alienated it seemed doomed.

Use your education as a power, your skill as a platform and stand up for what you believe in…or kneel. Just be mindful, be courteous, be respectful, but most importantly be yourself. One person can make a change, why can’t it be you? More importantly, why do we criticize people for trying, especially if they are lucky enough to be successful.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, now change your world and the world for an infinite amount of strangers. The best characteristic of humans is empathy is it not?

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The Student News Site of New Albany High School
Just Do Something by// Kami Geron