NFL’s ‘Take a Knee’ movement stirs up controversy

Richard Decker
Staff Writer

Hudson Valley students kneeled in demonstration of athletes protesting. PHOTO BY DYLAN HAUGEN | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Hudson Valley students kneeled in demonstration of athletes protesting.

“To me, when you’re white and stand for the flag, you’re proud of it because this country represents you; whereas, if you’re black, it’s a little different because you don’t feel like you’re represented, don’t feel like you’re recognized,” said Faith Gaillard, a sophomore business administration major.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to encourage his followers to boycott the NFL following statements he made about players who protested the National Anthem.
The following Sunday, NFL stadiums across the country saw a revival of the #TakeAKnee protests, started by Colin Kaepernick last year, with some players taking a knee and even entire teams locking arms.

These revitalized protests are intended to protest civil rights injustices, like police brutality, among the black community. This resurgence has led to open conversations and dialogue throughout the country, including the Hudson Valley campus.

Physical science student Brandon Murdie said, “I don’t care if you don’t stand during the national anthem, but only if it’s not on such a huge stage, because it’s a distraction to what actually needs to get fixed, like healthcare.”

Aaron Mackey, an architectural technology major, agrees with Murdie. Mackey said, “[the players] should find different ways to do it, like the Philadelphia Eagles, who rose their fists during the anthem.”

Additionally, the two students agreed that the protests are disrespectful to both the government and the service members “who have fought for our freedom.”

Shawn Crump, a freshman individual studies major, has a stronger stance. “You do not have a constitutional right to kneel for the anthem,” said Crump.

While Crump agrees there are civil injustices being committed, he firmly believes that there needs to be a form of protest that does not disrespect the symbolism behind an American flag.
Yet, other students feel differently. Donnie Damas, a political science major, argues that the controversy surrounding taking a knee exemplifies the failure of the United States government to protect the Constitutional rights of the black community.

“I don’t think it’s disrespectful to service members because they fought for that right [to protest],” said Damas. “I do think it is disrespectful to the government, [but it is intended] to be, because they are not standing up for the black citizens of the country.”

Regarding the narrative of the controversy and the flag, Damas argued “not all, but a lot of white people want to shirk the responsibility of the past… and they don’t want to acknowledge what has happened and what is continuing to happen.”

Damas continued, “So when things like this happen, they look to minimize what has happened and convert the subject to the disrespecting of the flag and servicemen. When really, the major problem is black kids getting shot in the street. So, why are we not talking about that?”
Murdie and Mackey, who were previously unaware of what Kaepernick and others were protesting, admitted the issue isn’t as cut-and-dry as previously thought.

“Yeah, it is an individual right, but I don’t know how I feel about it,” said Murdie.
Recognizing the importance of the movement, although it can be viewed as disrespectful, Murdie and Mackey agreed to take a picture for The Hudsonian in front of the U.S. flag. Murdie took a knee.
In early 2016, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid met with retired Green Beret and former NFL player, Nate Boyer, to discuss an appropriate way to protest police brutality and the mistreatment of the black community.

The murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Reid’s hometown, was the catalyst for their protests among countless other incidents, such as the shooting death of nine-year-old Tamir Rice in a public park.

Gaillard believes the protests are not only acceptable, but necessary to bring about social change. Gaillard, whose parents stopped standing for the flag years ago for not feeling represented, said the only true solution to the issue is “Through open conversations and doing actual research… talk with your peers on campus, start a conversation.”

While Damas’ agreed, his solution goes a step further. Damas said, “The Constitution and this country [were] built on an inherently racist system and we need ground-up reform. [White people] need to stop focusing on the flag and focus on black lives being lost.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: