Despite numerous clarifications, many still ignore the message behind Kaepernick protests

Hunter Gill, Editor-in-Chief

We need move past the idea that racism and discrimination are not commonplace in our country and instead applaud those who use their platform to promote positive change in Nike’s announcement Sept. 3 that Colin Kaepernick would headline this year’s “Just Do It” campaign reignited the controversy behind the former NFL quarterback. Kaepernick first gained media attention in 2016 for kneeling during the national anthem, a decision that has drawn a strong response from many, including President Donald Trump.

What many seem to miss, however, is Kaepernick’s message behind the protest. He is not, as many like to believe, protesting the flag, national anthem or the nation’s military. Kaepernick is protesting the racial injustice that many people of color face. A large part of this injustice centers around high numbers of police violence against people of color.

Even after widely publicizing this, many choose to blatantly ignore this message and instead use the military to defend their ignorance. The men and women that serve our country have varying opinions and not all feel one way or another about a particular issue.

The narrative that he is being offensive to the military is ironic in that Kaepernick got the idea to kneel from NFL long snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer. Boyer suggested kneeling, as opposed to sitting, in order to be more respectful to the military while still promoting his message.

“[Eric Reed, a co-protester, and I] were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are,” Kaepernick said. “And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to the men and women who fight for this country.”

Many of the individuals, including President Trump, who get up in arms every time someone mentions restricting the second amendment are the same ones calling for a restriction of Kaepernick’s first amendment right to freedom of speech, peaceful protest, and expression. Ironically, those are the same first amendment rights that every elected official swears to uphold and protect.

Adding to the irony of the matter is that the NFL lacks genuine patriotism. The soldiers on the field and other displays of patriotism during NFL games began as a marketing ploy for the U.S. government. Before 2009 players stayed in the locker rooms during the national anthem and were only moved to the field when the Department of Defense began paying the NFL millions of dollars to bring the players onto the field, among other ceremonies such as the flyover, in order to give off the impression that the NFL and its players were patriotic. From 2011-2015 the Department of Defense payout to the NFL for these manufactured displays of patriotism totaled 5.4 million dollars.

Each and every citizen of the United States has the same right to peaceful protest as the next. There is no provision in the Constitution that restricts that right in the event that someone disagrees with the protest. We need to move past the idea that racism and discrimination are not commonplace in our country and instead applaud those who use their platform to promote positive change in our country. There is nothing more American than that.