Annie Jennemann is a freshman journalism and English major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.
The debate amongst Americans about protesting the national anthem has gotten louder in the past week. People are responding in many ways to NFL players from many teams kneeling or locking arms during the national anthem before games, some believing it’s a protest of the national anthem itself. However, it’s important to note that the reason behind the protest has nothing to do with the anthem, but racial inequality in America. The whole idea of kneeling came from the 2016 preseason, when former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers soon approached Kaepernick to get involved in the peaceful protest. The two discussed how to use their platform as NFL players to provide a voice for and make a positive impact on the social justice movement. After discussion and meeting with U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, Kaepernick and Reid decided to kneel instead of stand. According to Reid, kneeling is a “respectful gesture.”
The protests carried into the 2017 NFL season, and now players, coaches and even owners are participating by not only kneeling, but also locking arms. For example, the Dallas Cowboys, alongside owner Jerry Jones, locked arms and kneeled before the national anthem and stood with locked arms before their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 25.
The response to the protests on social media has been huge, including a nationwide trending hashtag #takeaknee. President Donald Trump has also joined in by tweeting responses to different teams kneeling or locking arms. As a response to the Dallas Cowboys he said, “The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger”. Although the Cowboys did drop to their knees, they stood up for the singing of the national anthem, showing how they are not protesting the flag or the anthem; they are protesting police brutality.
Many Americans remain in support of the NFL players’ decision to “take a knee” before a game starts, but the NFL and players participating are also receiving a lot of backlash. Some argue that kneeling is disrespectful to military veterans and the country as a whole. Others believe it’s just inappropriate for football players to protest in such a manner.
With all of the responses from people all over America, it is still important that the reason remains clear behind the protests during the national anthem, to protest racial inequality and discrimination in America. NFL players aren’t kneeling or locking arms to disrespect the United States or out of hatred for the troops that fight for this country. They are kneeling for the many black victims of police brutality. They are kneeling, and will continue to kneel, for the discrimination that a great percentage of the United States faces every day.