By Grace Castleberg
Protests doesn’t always have to be violent. The act of kneeling for the national anthem was sparked by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. His intentions were to protest police brutality specifically towards those of color. It was a silent protest that has spoken volumes.
Originating from Colin Kaepernick, the protest has now stretched across the NFL, with players from across the nation uniting behind the movement Kaepernick has sparked. The borders of the protest don’t end with the NFL, however, and it is making an appearance at high school football teams and college teams. Even soccer players, cheerleaders, and basketball teams are showing their support for Kaepernick by taking a knee.
The protest has received backlash for being an act of disrespect towards the American flag and what it stands for, and the president has also spoken out about his distaste for the act.
A topic of this manner affects those everywhere. RCTC students, staff, and faculty weighed in on the importance of kneeling, the message being conveyed, and changes the protest is enacting.
“There is a time and place for everything,” says student Ian Meisner, “Yes, you have the right to freedom of speech, but if they actually cared, they would use their money for the inner city. It won’t change anything. It divides the people further because it pisses one side off more than another. Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.”
Caleb Jones, another student at RCTC, had a similar view. “It won’t change anything because we will always have social injustice and racism, and all this is doing is making everyone angry.”
A student who wishes to remain anonymous stated that, “They shouldn’t be kneeling. They’re getting paid millions because people overseas are fighting for them. The reason they are doing it is because they feel like they aren’t being treated right, but there are a lot of people who aren’t being treated right.”
Josiah Eide, feels differently. “I think freedom of speech is super important. I think that kneeling is a respectful way to express your protests. Colin Kaepernick’s protest was in good taste. Intentions are more important than the action. Our country was founded on the freedom of speech. Take that away, and how are we any different from anyone else?”
Eide also added that the protest is making changes across the country. “It’s making people come out and talk about it. A controversial topic brings out people’s opinions. When Trump spoke out, it showed his controlling side and has changed a lot since he spoke out. Kneeling for the anthem is now disrespectful because Trump is setting the line and saying it is. He’s making those who knelt to appear unpatriotic and disrespectful. What Trump said was unconstitutional.”
Othelmo da Silva, an RCTC academic adviser also weighed in. “Some people are saying that it’s about police brutality and inequality. People are hijacking the protest to promote their own grievances. Since the protest has expanded, it has become about many causes as opposed to just the one, which to me takes away the symbolism and the power the protest can have.”
At the moment, Othelmo feels the protest hasn’t changed anything. “Taking a knee, showering, and then going back to your million-dollar mansion doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It’s like #activism, or #metoo, or #bringbackourgirls, because next week are, you still for that cause or are you on to the next hashtag?”
As of now, players continue to take a knee. During the heat of the controversy, passionate words are being said on both sides and the protest continues to move forward, taking the form of not only kneeling but also raising a fist, linking arms, and/or sitting.