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As of late, NFL players have sparked the controversial topic of refusing to pay homage to the flag on the United States during the National Anthem at their own games. It has instigated debate among many, as well as infuriated the one and only Donald Trump, president of the U.S.
For decades, even centuries, it has been instilled in the minds of citizens from every country on the globe that one must pay respect to their country as an act of patriotism, especially through the pledge to the flag and the act of standing for the National Anthem. It is practiced every morning in schools and at major events, such as the good old American football games.
However, recently many of the NFL's beloved players have begun to kneel during the National Anthem; others have locked arms, bowed their heads, and some have even stayed in the locker room, refusing to partake in the tradition.
Kneeling during the National Anthem is not new in the media, however. This act of protest against police brutality towards minorities started last year in 2016, when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee in honor of police brutality victims. Since then, Kaepernick has received various amounts of backlash and has even been removed from the NFL. He lives now with the reputation of disrespect towards his country, when in reality, his actions prove the opposite.
To not stand for the pledge or the National Anthem is seen as disloyalty to your country, and sure, it is understandable why it could be conceived that way. However, it is inconceivable how one person could rant and spew nonsense about how disrespectful one is for not standing and then disrespect that individual for being quote-on-quote "disrespectful," when in all and complete honesty, this person has done absolutely nothing to their instigator on a personal level. It is pure hypocrisy.
It goes saying that it is disrespectful to refuse to stand for the flag that represents a country that disrespects the existence of minorities; a country being governed by a man that is the embodiment of bigotry, white supremacy, and misogyny.
At some point, it comes down to asking yourself: Am I standing because this is a country worth standing for or am I standing because everyone is standing? Because this is what I've been taught to do since I first stepped foot into a school?
Protesting during the National Anthem is not something that deserves such hate and criticism in these times. People are hating and criticizing because it is something against the norm, because it is not routine, because they feel it is an attack on the country, but it is not. It is men who realize that something in this country is not right. They kneel, not because they don't love their country, but because they love it so much that they want to see it prosper and thrive, and the only way for that to happen is through the unity of all American citizens, whether they be White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, etc.
Does it make you uncomfortable to stand against what you've always followed? Then dare to be uncomfortable. Because it is only in the absence of comfort that anything is ever done.