BSU Freshman Council Make their Stand (or Kneel) on Protesting the National Anthem

In light of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem, the 2017-2018 Black Student Union Freshman Council discussed at their first general body meeting on Oct. 2 their thoughts on his actions and whether NFL players and even us students should “Take a Knee to Take a Stand.”

Colin Kaepernick, a free-agent football quarterback, began his protests in 2016 when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. At the start of the 2016 preseason, he decided not to stand for the singing of the National Anthem during the NFL games with intentions of bringing attention to black oppression and police brutality.

Kaepernick said to NFL media following a 2016 game against the Green Bay Packers that “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.”

Many have accused Kaepernick of disrespecting the flag, however, students called to the attention that the flag is disrespected each time it is used for advertising purposes such as on Fourth of July paper napkins that will be discarded. It also is not supposed to be worn as apparel, bedding, or drapery. Not standing or not saluting it is not against the Flag Code.

 Malcolm Ferguson, freshman government and politics major, explains how tired black people are of being invalidated and told to stop whining. Photo: Amina Lamkin

Malcolm Ferguson, freshman government and politics major, explains how tired black people are of being invalidated and told to stop whining. Photo: Amina Lamkin

While many opposers to the protest have said that football is not a place to be political.

Students noted that sports have always been political.

 Erika Tarawallie, freshman undecided, reflects on footage of a football fan burning all his fan paraphernalia in counterprotest to NFL players taking a knee. Tarawallie notes the irony of the situation: the man burning his clothing vows not to support the NFL, yet his viral video provides the league with more publicity. Photo: Amina Lamkin

Erika Tarawallie, freshman undecided, reflects on footage of a football fan burning all his fan paraphernalia in counterprotest to NFL players taking a knee. Tarawallie notes the irony of the situation: the man burning his clothing vows not to support the NFL, yet his viral video provides the league with more publicity. Photo: Amina Lamkin

 

Many students believed that because the National Anthem references the institution of slavery it doesn’t represent what this country claims as their current ideals.

“Protecting lives is a lot more important than protecting this song,” Jordan Berry, freshman public health science major said.

Sept. 22, 2017 at a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who kneeled during the National Anthem and “disrespect the flag,”  calling  team owners to act.

“Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out He’s fired! He’s fired,” he said.

NFL games following President Trump’s comments, featured players and owners from around the league kneeling or banding together during the anthem.

“Why are you proud of a country who can’t even stand up for what they’re saying,” Nthabiseng Cooper, freshmen, said.

The general consensus at the meeting was that Kaepernick did not start kneeling in response to President Trump, but the crowd questioned the motives for other more recent players, coaches, and owners. Jerry Jones who recently knelt had donated money to President Trump’s campaign. Were they doing it for the image? Were they only doing it to not lose the support of their team? Or should some players be given the benefit of the doubt?

 At the first BSU general body meeting hosted by the 2017-2018 Freshman Council on 2 October 2017, students came together to discuss the various layers to the kneeling taking place in the National Football League. Diana Sarnor, kinesiology major in the class of 2019, remarks that players taking a knee during the national anthem is not disrespectful. Sarnor then lists all the various ways we disrespect the flag everyday. Photo: Amina Lampkin.

At the first BSU general body meeting hosted by the 2017-2018 Freshman Council on 2 October 2017, students came together to discuss the various layers to the kneeling taking place in the National Football League. Diana Sarnor, kinesiology major in the class of 2019, remarks that players taking a knee during the national anthem is not disrespectful. Sarnor then lists all the various ways we disrespect the flag everyday. Photo: Amina Lampkin.

“They don’t like the idea of their America changing to be pro black,” Francis Sowande, Freshman letters and sciences major, said in response to the backlash of the protests.

The question still stands on whether black athletes should use their platform and acknowledge the power their actions have in the community or if they have no obligation to do so.

When the question was posed “would you take a knee,” many would have to choose from worrying about themselves or concern for the bigger picture. But in light of it all, the discussion was concluded with how we as students can use social media platforms and our voice as a tool.

We may not have to take a knee, but we can always take a stand.

 

 

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