I was really busy with a project this past week, so this weekend was my first chance to catch up on the Take a Knee movement. I’m intrigued by the history as well as what it has become.
You can read about it and watch the video here.
Taking a Knee
Here’s a rudimentary synopsis: Colin Kaepernick chose to sit through the national anthem on August 26, 2016. It was a personal decision, and one he made to protest police brutality and the disregard for Black lives and the lives of people of colour in the USA. On September 1, 2016, teammate Eric Reid joined him, and then Jeremy Lane from another NFL team ‘took a knee’ too. In the year that followed, other players from other teams also began taking a knee.
And then on over a year later – on September 22, 2017 – President Trump stated any player not standing for the anthem should be fired: fuel was added and the movement began.
Here’s the interesting part:
President Trump (and likely others) see the unwillingness to stand as disrespectful to the flag and the country. Colin Kaepernick and the teammates and NFLers that have followed his example are choosing not to stand for the anthem as a protest of the disrespect shown to and felt by Black people and people of colour in the country that flag represents.
Since President Trump made his inflammatory statement, owners have shown support for the movement – or at least are speaking out against Trump’s statement and stand.
What creates a movement?
And that’s what I want to point out:
Numbers make a movement. But what are these tweets about, really?
While I see the support of owners and their tweets about social justice as positive in one light, it also reminds me (and is evidence of the fact that) social justice is not sexy.
Where was their support when there were only a few players ‘taking a knee’?
Where was their support when it wasn’t so public, and not about the president?
And why are tweets focusing on the President’s words and their divisiveness instead of on the actions that are deeply rooted in racial division in the USA (and other place like Canada) like the death of Black people and people of colour at the hands of police?
When issues are sidelined…
Pay close attention folks, this is important.
When Colin Kaepernick made a statement, it wasn’t taken up.
When others added their support, it wasn’t a big deal.
When the President spoke up against their actions – not against police brutality and injustice for Black people and people of colour – it blew up.
And what blew up? Outrage about Trump’s words and calls for the firing of those who do not stand for the anthem.
Where was all of that support when this was about Black people and people of colour being treated with disrespect and violence?
Pay attention. It’s not the same thing. And this is how we undermine marginalized communities while thinking we are being allies as we take over and the original message is sidelined or lost.
It can be subtle.
So…think about it: what is the present movement about?