In Response to "Why I Stand"

When considering the question of what defines America, I do not believe the answer should reflect a certain group of people, an institution, or even a politician.

When the Founding Fathers were creating what they knew would serve as the most prominent document in this country’s history, they began by declaring that all men are created equal, holding inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The very foundation of these United States is built on these three rights, and this declaration of equality amongst men, and that is what defines this country.

In my eyes, being a patriot is not dependent on whether you stand or kneel for the anthem, but whether you recognize these rights, and strive to create a society where they are evident for every man and woman. 

That is where I think the outrage against athletes kneeling for the anthem gets a bit muddy. 

When Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem, it was not to say that he disregarded the sacrifices men and women make every day to fight for this country.

Kaepernick knelt to demonstrate that he would not show pride in a country that seemed to be disregarding the oppression he, and many others, felt was becoming wildly apparent. He knelt because he felt that we had entered into a time where we were no longer upholding the expectation of this country our soldiers fight for, the expectation of equality and liberty amongst all men.
As we see more and more players kneeling, it is important to remember that they share those same reasons.

The refusal to realize and consider the reasoning of these athletes exposes a problematic way of thinking which becomes increasingly apparent during political discussions like this one. This way of thinking is one that reasons that since you personally have not experienced oppression, oppression is not occurring.

It is hard to understand why someone would protest a cause if you do not believe the cause is there. 

We cannot allow ourselves to dictate whether or not someone is experiencing an injustice, especially when it is an injustice we have no means with which to identify. Although the cause for kneeling may not be apparent for everyone, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

A millionaire athlete kneeling may seem to resolve nothing within the current racial turbulence our country is experiencing, but it does start a conversation. It has forced people to recognize the reality of the oppression people of color are experiencing, and we should not condemn athletes for using their platform to bring light to this. 

Jesus did call us to love one another, and with that comes being concerned for the good of our fellow brothers and sisters. I think we should focus on the cause these athletes are kneeling for, because once we do that we realize it is not to disrespect the soldiers who fight for this country, but to ensure the same freedom and liberties for everyone living in it.

Jalyn Rutledge
SportsLilie de la Motte