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Taking a Knee

SANTA+CLARA%2C+CA+-+SEPTEMBER+12%3A++Colin+Kaepernick+%237+and+Eric+Reid+%2335+of+the+San+Francisco+49ers+kneel+in+protest+during+the+national+anthem+prior+to+playing+the+Los+Angeles+Rams+in+their+NFL+game+at+Levi%27s+Stadium+on+September+12%2C+2016+in+Santa+Clara%2C+California.++%28Photo+by+Thearon+W.+Henderson%2FGetty+Images%29
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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        The land of the free, and the home of the brave. In our National Anthem, which we are expected to know and which we sing before sports events across the country, we salute ourselves with this notion. The notion that we are a country made up of people who have freedom.

        However, between 2008 and 2011 12,765 people were killed in police shootings, 51.1% of which were Black males. How can we be a nation provided with freedom, when black males between 15 and 34 make up for 2% of the country, but 15% of the deaths this year by police brutality?

        This is why athletes around the country are taking a knee during the national anthem. Because who is proud of the country that killed more people in the first 24 days of 2015, than police in England and Wales have in the past 24 years, according to the Counted, a project by the Guardian to track police brutality around the world?

        The taking a knee protest was started by Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, on August 14th. Just recently before that Sylville Smith, 23, was shot in Northern Milwaukee, perhaps spurring Kaepernick’s protest. He was soon after joined by his teammate Eric Reid. Though his protest didn’t begin to gain momentum until his third game, it is now taking the country by storm.

        Jeremy Lane, Megan Rapinoe, Brandon Marshall and many other athletes have joined the protest, progressing to some players raising a fist into the air during the national anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” Kaepernick stated, a sentiment that should strike people around the country. How can we show pride for our country if we can’t even stay true to our own motto? People aren’t free if they can’t go certain places for fear of being shot because of the color of their skin.

        The Twin Cities itself has had problems with police brutality, Jamar Clark and Philando Castile, for instance, just a few of the thousands of unarmed black males who have been wrongfully shot by the police. Because of this, seven football players at North High School took a knee on September 10th, followed by the entire South High School volleyball team just 6 days later, at their home match against Washburn. The next day at their Homecoming game, members of the Edina Hornets football team knelt at the end of the field. The community around them responded in support, one mother of a football player for North, saying “At first I was upset.“Charlie Adams, the head football coach for North High School said that “I told my players they have the right to [not stand] and the right to do so.” Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota also shared his opinion on it, saying, “[Colin Kaepernick taking a knee] is why I served my country. So that you have the freedom to protest… I don’t have to agree with him, but I’ll still respect his right to do it, and everyone should respect that.” He later goes on to talk about his experience as Governor of Minnesota and how he “immediately vetoed” the law that they tried to pass requiring the Pledge of Allegiance for public school children. He says, “governments should not mandate patriotism. Governments earn patriotism.” You can’t help but notice that he has a point.

        Recently, it has been made clear multiple times over that the U.S. is not doing things to earn patriotism from its residents. As the National Anthem is such a clear show of patriotism it is a very evident protest when you do not stand for it. Showing how we will not stand for all the violence against a certain group of people that have just as much right to be treated humanely as anyone else.

        Marjaan Sidar, teacher of Black Culture at North High School says that many community members have never felt like the flag represents them. The fact that police officers in the United States do not stop wrongfully killing black males, no matter how much protest occurs, is outrageous. Taking a knee is just another way for people to show how hurtful this is.

Will you kneel in solidarity? Will you be one of the brave who strive to make the United States truly the ‘land of the free’?  

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Taking a Knee