Why They Kneel

While my Facebook feed is a melange of cute animal videos, hilarious memes, and cooking videos, it’s also a place vitriolic political activity. I see memes making fun of liberals, and supporting Trump, and I see posts about human rights and problems involving racism.

The Problem of Racism

People don’t want to admit it. They don’t want it to be true. They claim people are making it up because they want attention, or have a victim complex. They think America is the greatest country ever and there’s no way racism still exists.

Guess what. IT DOES.

As a white person, I’ve never experienced racism firsthand. I’ve never been looked at differently. I’ve never had someone fear me because of my skin. I’ve never had someone use a slur against me. I’ve never been forced out of a Starbucks for just being there.

Likewise, I don’t have a lot of experiences where I myself have witnessed racism against a black person. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I have certainly met a handful of racists in my lifetime.

I’m sure people use their lack of anecdotal evidence to deny the existence of racism. Anecdotal evidence isn’t substantive evidence. Similarly, lack of it isn’t good proof either. Saying “I’ve never seen ——-” isn’t effective in disproving something.

If you don’t believe it just look at the rise of white supremacy. The KKK has become more active recently and there have been rally’s, such as the one in Charlottesville, where they proudly brandish confederate flags, and swastikas, symbols of racism and antisemitism.

Bottom line is that racism still exists and it is incredibly harmful. Black Lives Matter is a movement that formed in response to police brutality against unarmed black men and other racial injustices such as mass incarceration of blacks for minuscule offenses.

And obviously all lives matter. BLM is not saying only black lives matter. If you respond with “ALL LIVES MATTER!!!” you are entirely missing the point of the movement.

Stephen Clark, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Anton Sterling, Walter Scott, Tony Robinson, and Tamir Rice (And many more) are all black men who were fatally shot by police officers, despite no demonstration of violence on the victims part.

Most of the officers who committed those crimes got away with minimal or no charge. This sends a message to black people.  They heard “You don’t matter.” So they started a movement with the message “Yes we do.”

Kaepernick Takes a Knee

Colin Kaepernick is a former NFL quarterback who stirred the pot when he decided to peacefully protest inequality by kneeling during the National Anthem.  This was met by a range of responses. Many people criticized him, claiming that he is disrespecting troops by kneeling. People even began to boycott NFL.

Kaepernick is a BLM supporter and has explained his reasoning for kneeling as a protest against police brutality. Simple.

What do people do? They twist it around. They make it about something else. Once again, they silence blacks.

Kaepernick has promised to kneel until “[the American flag] represents what it’s supposed to represent.”

I think people who criticize football players for taking a knee, they demonstrate a clear misunderstanding.

Just what does the flag represent? Does it represent troops as people seem to think it does? Not to my understanding, based upon research.

What the Flag Represents

The American flag was established on June 6th, 1777, becoming the official flag of the new independent nation. We declared we were separate from Britain, and would no longer submit to the King.

The flag is designed to represent the thirteen original colonies (thirteen stripes), and the 50 states (50 stars).

The colors of the flag (red, white, and blue) also have important meaning.

Red represents hardiness and valor.

White represents purity and innocence.

Blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

The National Anthem

“Star-spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key on September 14th, 1814. It was a poem inspired by the traumatic witnessing of the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British.

The Star-Spangled Banner was the name given to the flag that hung above Fort McHenry. This flag was different than the one we use today, having fifteen stars and fifteen stripes.


My point in explaining the origins of the national anthem and the flag is that they aren’t entirely relevant to the struggles of today. Troops are no longer fighting for our independence from Great Britain. That battle has been waged and won, and we are now on good terms with the Brits, finally waving a flag of our own.

So when people condemn others for not respecting the flag on the basis of disrespecting the troops, it logically follows that the disrespect falls on people who fought in the Revolutionary war. It’s not that we shouldn’t respect those brave people, but they have been dead for hundreds of years and therefore cannot be harmed by lack of flag worship.

I have respect for people who fight and have fought for our country, I really do, and I don’t mean to seem flippant. It just seems to me that people in the military are seen as having the moral high ground. But people enlist for myriad reasons, not always noble ones. Sometimes it’s just for the money and benefits, and that’s fine by me.

I know many people in the military whose jobs don’t actually require any heroism, so technically speaking they aren’t fighting for our country. They have my utmost respect of course, but should we really discredit a movement on their behalf? Many veterans do not even take offense to Kaepernick’s protest, some applaud it. It took courage to do what he did, knowing there would be backlash.

He’s become the face of a movement based on protesting the corruption in this country. You can’t deny that there is corruption. The flag represents America, and therefore represents that corruption as well.

It is supposed to represent freedom, and justice, but those are not qualities that can be entirely attributed to America. Capitalism serves the rich, while leaving the poor to starve. Low and middle class people are in prison for things like possessing marijuana, while the wealthy ones easily escape prosecution for serious offences, like rape, and can even end up in high government positions.

I understand the sentiment regarding the flag, and even why it is associated with modern day troops. I just don’t think it should be treated as something sacred. Criticism of your country is inherently American. We criticize it because we care about this country and want to improve it, to expunge it of corruption. The founding fathers firmly believed that.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

-The Declaration of Independence

I highly doubt the Founding Fathers would approve of the idolization of the flag and I believe they would be proud to see that people are using their freedoms, and voicing their concerns.

Furthermore I would like to express vexation at the words that are being thrown around lately.

The other day I saw a post calling those who kneel “babies” and not “real men.” People who post things like that miss the whole point of  kneeling, and they idolize the flag. I’d like to see them call neo-nazis and white supremacists babies for screaming and shouting about the existence of blacks, Jews, gays and other minorities. But they usually don’t.

I’d like to see the same disdain people have towards these NFL players directed at more heinous acts than simply kneeling silently. Be outraged about the mail-bomber sending bombs to popular democrats (even if you’re a republican.) Be furious about the recent synagogue massacre. Be enraged by the death of Heather Heyer, a counter protester who was rammed by the car of a white supremacist.

knee

The above picture refers to Trumps words regarding both NFL players kneeling, and neo-nazis, and KKK members. He couldn’t outright condemn the participants of the racist rally in Charlottesville, but had no problem cursing out the football players.

In America white men can carry tiki torches and march around screaming hatred towards minorities, but when those minorities protest peacefully, they get ripped apart and demonized by the right.

We need to be worrying about real problems in this country. Poverty, abuse, discrimination, animal cruelty, climate change, sex trafficking….. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately people focus on problems that don’t actually harm anyone.

The same people who cry about liberals always being offended are ironically incredibly offended by a non-violent act performed to call out injustices. No one’s kneeling because they hate veterans. Veterans are irrelevant in this whole situation, contrary to popular belief. Whether you agree or not, the refusal to kneel for the flag literally does nothing to hurt anyone.

No one can be forced to stand for the national anthem, or recite the pledge of allegiance. Being forced to do so would be an act of tyrany, which this country has always been in strong opposition of.

Don’t get me wrong here. I love this country. I’m so grateful to have been born here instead of in a third-world country, or a fascist country.

That doesn’t mean I will not criticize it. This country needs accountability. If something isn’t right, it’s our duty to call it out and to correct it. That’s why they kneel.

In Defense Of Millennials

I hear people who are cynical to the core when the word “millennial” is spoken. Ask yourself, are we not a product of the generation that raised us? Then why are we to be so criticized? We are not responsible for the way we were brought up. What is so wrong with my generation that is truly unique to us? I hear the same rhetoric being tossed around, disparaging us. We are lazy and entitled. We expect the world to be handed to us on a silver plate. We are self absorbed.

I’ve heard it all before and I’ll hear it again. I think it is unfair that we are being grossly stigmatized by the ones who are supposed to be role models and leaders to us. There are people of every age who demonstrate the properties described above.

It’s hurtful to erase all the meaningful acts of millennial’s and sum them up with such harsh words. I’ve found my generation to be full of promise and hope. We want to change the world. We want respect and equality for all. We are loud and proud. Perhaps this has not been everyone’s experience, but we can’t judge a whole group of people by the few, now can we?

Stereotyping needs to end. It does no one any good to assume someone is a certain way based on their demographic. I’ve met a plethora of millennial’s who defy what is said about us. I’ve met some who fit the description as well, but I’ve also met Baby Boomers who fit the description.

I think the perception of millennial’s stems from misunderstanding. When the older generation hears us say we think health care and college should be free, they might assume we are entitled, and we want everything for free. In reality we just believe everyone has the right to health and education, and should not acquire a stupendous amount of debt as a result. This view on healthcare and college stems from disdain towards poverty.

They see us take selfies and call us self absorbed. But who is to say they wouldn’t have done the same if camera phones existed in their youth? Not to mention the fact that some people communicate with their friends through SnapChat, which means someone taking a selfie could actually be them sending a response to someone.

One might think a millennial whose parents help them out is spoiled. Maybe someone is 25 and lives with their parents still. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. One of the things we are enraged about is how expensive housing is. In fact, it’s incredibly expensive to just exist, and this irks us greatly. For this reason, many young people are turning to socialism, which the older generations view as akin to communism, and deem us un-American.

It’s easy to fall prey to nihilism and pessimism when we see in the world around us so much that needs fixing. It’s also easy to become bitter towards the older generations because so many of them ostracize us. It’s important to remember that we shouldn’t turn around and accuse them all of slandering us. We, too, must remember to avoid generalizing.

What I would like people to take away from this is that society just functions better when we are less judgmental. There are so many of us on this planet we have no choice but to inhabit together. Each and every one of us is vastly different and unique. Set aside prejudices and assumptions and you open yourself up to the potential of finding something beautiful within someone unexpected.