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It seems that the #takeaknee movement has been very popular in social media these days, especially the exchange of words and tweets between Trump and some famous athletes.
Truth to be told, I didn’t even pay attention to it initially, until all the noise made me wonder what could have offended the President so personally. It turns out that everything started with Stephen Curry (NBA player) openly declining an invitation to visit the White House and, visibly offended, Trump dis-inviting Curry through a tweet afterwards.
During a speech on Friday evening and apparently still affected by the support that some famous athletes had showed toward Curry and against him, Trump felt justified to verbally attack other players but this time from the NFL; he criticised them for supporting the #takeaknee movement with their actions, insulted, and publicly asked the team’s owners to fire them. (Somehow this reminded me of the Queen of Hearts yelling, "Off with their heads!")
It’s easy to get lost in all the noise and drama (especially from the perspective of a non-American trying to gather an informed, humble opinion), so let’s try to put things into perspective and see if we can throw some light, but first let’s talk about what #takeaknee is.
Not long ago, NFL player Colin Kaepernick started to sit down during the national anthem before each game; he did this because he wanted to raise awareness about police brutality and the mistreatment of black minorities. It seems that a lot of people got offended afterwards because they felt he was being disrespectful towards the veterans, who so hard fought for freedom, so in order to honour the veterans as well as raising awareness, he stopped sitting down and knelt instead (choosing a universal pose of humility and respect).
While he initially did this on his own, bit by bit other athletes gathered enough courage and started to join him; that’s when Trump criticised the movement claiming that their actions were disrespectful to the flag.
To some people, this whole subject might seem like a matter of a few spoiled celebrity athletes making a fuss about nothing, but after reading articles, watching the interviews, looking at many of the tweets from those in favour and those against, it is hard to not see the shadow of a strong bias in here.
So in one hand we have a group of famous athletes trying to use their platforms to speak for those who can’t, in order to set an example of courage and integrity; all that at the same time that people in power are trying to silence them through threats and public humiliation.
In the other hand, many ignoring the main message about police brutality choose to make the whole movement about Trump, as well as the potential insult to the flag. In fact most of the people now seem to think that #takeaknee is about protesting against Trump.
Maybe we are forgetting that veterans didn’t fight for a piece of cloth, but for what it represents—young generations speaking up for themselves and having the freedom to advocate for justice and equality in a peaceful way, without later punishment-(otherwise this would be called dictatorship).
When athletes #takeaknee, they’re not only reinforcing this same message (and kneeling in humility and respect for their veterans), but they’re also spreading unity, setting an example for future generations, as well as sending a big NO to racism.
It seems that those who take the liberty to send public threats to players, for using their freedom to kneel in protest while the National Anthem is being played, might be the ones who forgot what this is all about; and through those insults and actions, far from the role models they’re supposed to be, they’re actually disrespecting democracy, veterans and everything they once fought for. In fact many veterans have showed support for the #takeaknee movement so far.
But have you ever thought about this? Because I must admit that it took a bit of research to understand what we are really looking at in here, bear with me and try to picture this.
On top of African-American athletes being overlooked and silenced by threats not just now, but throughout history while trying to speak up for freedom and equality, they have also been told by society (mainly composed of a different race that is understandably unable to empathise enough since they haven't lived the same struggles) how lucky and proud they should feel about the freedom everybody has; all that while forcing them to stand up before an anthem written by an aristocrat, who not only owned slaves but who included a third verse (most people forgot that the National Anthem has four verses in total) where he rejoiced in the death of The Corps of Colonial Marines (escaped American slaves). Someone who once defined African-Americans as a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.
So after knowing all of this, can we really blame them for trying to make this so needed change?
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people seem to think that #takeaknee is about athletes protesting against Trump, but it is nothing to do with him. He just purposely or not turned this into a PR stunt, taking away the public attention from the worthy cause, in order to silence these athletes and turn them into anti-patriotic traitors, letting the confused general public do the rest.
So in order to avoid anymore confusion, let’s recap: #takeaknee is a movement started by Colin Kaepernick where athletes put one knee on the floor during the National Anthem before a game, in order to raise awareness about police brutality and the mistreatment of African-American citizens, as well as showing respect for aeterans.
In these current times it is not good enough to watch from the benches anymore; we are all human beings, and showing solidarity and unity whether is for black people, women, LGBT, or any other group of humans is essential. No matter where they come from, suffering and injustice believe it or not affect us all.
Therefore let's hope that soon enough we get to witness not just all African-American athletes, but all of their teammates speaking up, raising awareness, all united and kneeling during the national anthem.
Most importantly, fingers crossed that this will set an example inspiring young generations of all races to eliminate the fear of speaking up and peacefully stand for what they believe in, because thanks to courageous people like these athletes, they will have learnt that every one of them deserves equality, even if the rest of society says otherwise.