Taking a Knee

For the longest time, kneeling has been a sign of reverence, submissiveness, deference, and sometimes mourning and vulnerability. Research into emotion and nonverbal communication suggests that nothing is threatening about kneeling. Instead, kneeling is mostly deployed as a sign of deference and respect. Kneeling can also be a posture of mourning and sadness; it makes the one who kneels more vulnerable.

What Colin Kaepernick Started

Colin Kaepernick ignited the current debate over athletes kneeling in protest during the national anthem in 2016, and the death of George Floyd has escalated this issue to become a nationally divisive issue. In the beginning, Kaepernick’s kneeling was seen as disrespecting the nation’s flag. Many other professional players, high school athletes, and professional athletes in other sports have refused to stand for the national anthem. Nowadays, thousands of protestors are seen kneeling against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. These protests beg the question, should athletes take a knee?

What Exactly Does Taking a Knee Mean?

When one believes the United States is not living up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, kneeling during the national anthem is appropriate and justified. Kneeling for the flag is not meant to show disrespect for the flag or the veterans that fought for freedom. Last week, NASCAR official and Army veteran Kirk Price kneeled during the anthem at a race stating, “I fully respect the flag. The issue is African Americans being oppressed for so long under the flag.”

When a national figure, like an NFL player, kneels during the national anthem, it shocks people into paying attention and generates conversation. Several people were shocked and offended when Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem. This action resulted in a debate that has continued to this very day. Social media has given voice to strong opinions on both sides, including members of the armed forces. They have expressed their support of Kaepernick’s right to protest. Kneeling during the national anthem is a legal form of peaceful protesting. Several US veterans see the kneeling as a form of appreciation for their sacrifice that an American can exercise their freedom of speech.

Kneeling Can Be Seen As a Sign of Peaceful Protest

The debate over whether players should or should not kneel during the national anthem has been going on for several years. Although it was first viewed as a sign of disrespect for the flag, recent events have opened people’s eyes to what it means. Kneeling is a sign of peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality. It can be seen at demonstrations around the nation.

Professional athletes have a unique platform to show their support for the protests. While this action will ruffle the feathers of some Americans, several Army veterans have shown support of the right to kneel during the national anthem.

Seiler Tucker