Artwork by Alonzo Lepper.

The standing controversy

October 11, 2017

It’s never been about the anthem

December 1, 1955. After Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus a boycott was sparked. It wasn’t about the buses.

February 1, 1960. Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil all sat at the all white lunch counter of the Woolworth’s and waited to be served. Consequently they started the sit-in movement. It wasn’t about the food.

March 7, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. led a group of 600 people on march from Selma in an attempt to reach Montgomery, Alabama. They were met with troops and violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It wasn’t about the roadways.

April 29, 1992. Four officers are found not guilty after beating Rodney King for a reported 15 minutes. Los Angeles then erupts into a five-day riot fiasco. It wasn’t about the music.

August 26, 2016. Colin Kaepernick sits down during the national anthem for the first time during a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Eventually the protest transformed into kneeling during the National Anthem across the NFL and other sports leagues. It was never about the song.



Lately it seems as if the only events that grace the media are the incidents of extreme police brutality. They display gruesome scenes of the very people who are meant to protect the public, violently attacking the American people.

The media are the ones who have brought these hidden secrets out of the dark and they have shoved the once swept under the rug cases out onto a red carpet for the public. But this limelight has also started to shine on a new form of protest manifesting within the biggest sports events.

Professional football players have started to take a knee during the National Anthem, and the simple action has caused a stark divide in political conversation. Instead of a normal Sunday night focused around the game play, players have used one of the arguably largest platforms to outwardly cast their opinions in a calm and respectful manner.

“No great advance has been made in science, politics or religon without controvesry.” ”

— Lyman Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe's father

In order to spark change, a controversy has to first identify the issue.

According to the 2010 census, which is the most recent census, of people who identify as one race those who selected African American make up a mere 13 percent of the population. Whereas those who only selected white make up 72 percent.

Statistically across the nation those who are shot and killed by police is an even spread amongst the races. For the duration of one year and six months between January 2015 and July 2016, 175 young black men were killed versus 172 young white men killed.

But the problem lies when you take into consideration the population and cases. The math proves black Americans are a whopping five times more likely to get shot by a police officer.

Yes, certain cases exist that do call for police to use their firearms. But for the 24 unarmed blacks and 18 whites that is simply not an acceptable action. Police are supposed to protect all life, and sometimes shooting a subject is the best way of protecting the public. Even then, it is only acceptable if the subject is putting another citizen or citizens in imminent danger. But if subjects are unarmed, a gunshot should never been used against them.

This is especially true, seeing as the police are supposed to be trained to divert situations with their weapons being their last resort. So for those who say there is no real danger, they are simply ignoring numbers. No one unarmed should ever be shot by police, no matter the race.

With that being said, the issue that is being protested by the players is prominent and real. It’s a deep-seated problem that goes beyond police brutality. But in order to reverse the larger issues small actions have to be taken.

Taking a knee is a form of respect not disrespect, get it right.

Whether it be during church, while a player is injured, “taking a knee” to listen to a coach, at a fallen soldier’s grave or even signaling an emergency to surrounding people: taking a knee is a sign of upmost respect.

So when a player decides to drop down to one knee it shouldn’t be perceived as disrespectful when in its simplest form it’s a sign of respect. When a knight would approach his king, he would kneel. Thus when a player kneels during the National Anthem he is acknowledging the people who have lost their lives not only on the battlefield but on the streets to other Americans.

A fallen soldier is the same as a fallen brother.

All the players want to accomplish is a little more peace in a world that is becoming more and more divided.

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Show respect, stand

The ill-mannered #TakeaKnee movement started in the 2016 NFL preseason when former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem. He did this in support of the young black Americans who were killed in recent police brutality incidents. Since then, athletes across the NFL have begun to take a knee or simply sit during the National Anthem in protest of the racial inequality some perceive in this country.

The issue has been the most popular topic in the American sport’s world and has gathered nationwide attention. These athletes are dividing American sports, which is one of the few activities in this country that isn’t divided, by protesting and being disrespectful to the flag.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the Aug. 26 preseason game between the 49er’s and Green Bay Packers. “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.”

Sitting or kneeling may be a right, but it is disrespectful. There is no prevalent issue regarding black people and police brutality that calls for protesting, as most of the time the “victim” of the shooting warranted police engagement due to his or her dangerous actions or behavior.

An article from the Washington Post in 2009 states that out of all violent crimes in which someone was charged, black Americans were charged with 57 percent of murders, 62 percent of robberies and 45 percent of assaults in the country’s 75 largest counties.

Although they only make up about 13 percent of the population, black Americans commit most of the crimes in the largest counties of the country. Due to the high rates of crime and danger in these counties, an officer of any race in these areas would still create the same number of deaths. The killings have nothing to do with race; they are just fatalities from the high rates of crime in these areas.

Another article from the Washington Post states that in 74 percent of all fatal police shootings, the individual had already fired shots at the police, brandished a gun or attacked a person with his/her bare hands or a weapon. In another 16 percent of fatal shootings, there was no active gunfire or attacks but the individuals were making dangerous threats or displaying knives. This proves that most of these incidents are not out of line by the police, but are just attempts to save themselves and other people. The police are not targeting anyone when they defend themselves; these shootings have nothing to do with the race of the individual, but rather what the individual is doing.

The statistics alone prove football players are misguided in their views, and that there is no reason to be protesting. This draws attention away from football and instantly makes those who kneels controversial. Athletes who a lot of people supported may begin to be seen in a negative way by the majority of football fans. This negative image they have created has resulted in terrible TV ratings for the NFL throughout the last two years. Yet, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell keep supporting the protesters despite the heavy criticism and bad ratings they are receiving.

The police are not targeting anyone when they defend themselves; these shootings have nothing to do with the race of the individual, but rather what the individual is doing.”

Many people only see one side of the brutality issue: the side that shows more black people getting killed by cops. While the amount of blacks killed by cops is a staggering number, the amount of whites killed is almost parallel. Meaning the protest is based off misrepresented statistics so people should stand, respect the flag and honor the people who fought for it.

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