Exactly four years ago Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem at an NFL game for the first time.
The act of protest however was a change from the week prior where Kaepernick simply chose to sit. He wasn’t there to disrespect the military and acknowledged that he was simply trying to convey a message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Kaepernick even emphasized that he didn’t believe all police were bad apples so to speak.
His act of protest was quickly met with extreme criticism, but that didn’t stop him from speaking up, and it shouldn’t have. Kaepernick had the same right to freely protest his belief as every person who disagreed with him did as well.
Now many people seem to mention that the current protests across America aren’t really protests. They are “violent riots” conducted by “Antifa thugs.” The same people state that we do have the right to protest, but are often offended when these protests don't align with their viewpoint.
Why was it when Kaepernick spoke up critics acted with veracity to silence him, but now those same critics wish the current protests were “peaceful”?
If you want to watch some very peaceful protests, it isn’t hard to find them. They occurred across the world following the killing of George Floyd. Tensions often only arose after counter-protestors antagonized people in the streets, or police freely tear-gassed citizens.
Even more fitting for the term “peaceful protest” was what many professional sports leagues did across the country last week. The players decided to simply not play in order to avoid taking away time from a more pressing matter than a sports game.
It didn’t matter though. The message was clear from certain bases that these players shouldn’t be protesting. People believe that because a regular person couldn’t walk out of their job to go protest without any repercussion then neither should an athlete. The only difference there though is the leagues did back their players and respected their rights to protest.
Again it didn't matter in what way this peaceful protest occurred because it would have been met with claims of dispute regardless.
“Shut up and dribble,” were Fox News’ Laura Ingraham’s words of advice for Lebron James two years ago following an interview where James spoke about his view of Donald Trump.
This had nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter movement that has been ostracized by those who believe the police have done nothing wrong and was instead just an American man talking about politics.
So I’m confused why Laura Ingraham, who gets paid to talk about politics by Fox News, in was so outraged that James exercised his first amendment right and spoke about what was on his mind. Is it maybe that Ingraham struggles with people having differing opinions from herself? I can't say for certain.
There is a real notion that certain people shouldn’t talk about politics. Athletes and celebrities are regularly included in this group.
Maybe people think since they are famous and wealthy, certain issues might float over their heads, but that certainly isn’t true.
Racial injustice for one isn’t political, and secondly doesn’t care about status, as athletes like Torii Hunter, and Sterling Brown have come forward with stories where they were targeted by police based on the assumption they were in the wrong.
There is an issue with policing in America, and people can try to deny that. It's their right to do so. However, people need to stop going out of their way to try to silence others' voices.
If you disagree with a sports team protesting, stop watching the games. I don’t mean continuously comment under every sports organizations’ posts about social reform, “this is why I don’t watch the NBA, MLB, NHL anymore. Keep politics out of sports.”
While others continue to protest and attempt to inspire change, athletes should be included because that is how they exercise their right to free speech.