For the past few weeks, professional football player Colin Kaepernick has sparked a nationwide debate after sitting on the bench during the national anthem at a preseason matchup against the Green Bay Packers on August 26th. In addition to causing a media whirlwind, many other athletes, including 49ers teammate, Eric Reid, University of Nevada teammate Brandon Marshall, and most recently Megan Rapinoe of the United States Women’s Soccer Team, have protested in solidarity with him. According to Inside Edition, Kaepernick is protesting “against the oppression of people of color in the United States.” Even during his last preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego during “Military Night,” Kaepernick still protested during the anthem, although he did decide to go on one knee alongside teammate Eric Reid. People across the country have been burning his jersey, while others are respecting his decision, like high school football players who now also take a knee during the national anthem.
Over the past few years, racial violence and hate crimes have increased in the United States. According to the FBI, “law enforcement agencies reported 5,479 hate crime incidents involving 6,418 offenses to our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2014.” I believe what Kaepernick is standing (or sitting) for is correct, but he should not be conducting his protest during the national anthem. The national anthem is something that American people belt out with pride. It is highly recommended that you “rise, remove your caps, and sing the national anthem.” People have called his act “unconstitutional”, although it is his right either to stand or sit or “disrespecting the American dream.” Even veterans and members of the military have chimed in, many posting profane videos on the internet expressing their disgust. Although Kaepernick has continued to stress the point of his protests, many still believe he “hates his country.” Kaepernick has stated:
“I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better, and I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.”
What Kaepernick needs to do is to stand during the national anthem. Instead of degrading a sacred symbol, he should seek inspiration from the National Anthem to do even more for promoting racial equality. Other athletes have stood during the national anthem, and after it ends, black power salute, as Martellus Bennett, a tight end for the New England Patriots, did in a Week 1 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Colin Kaepernick needs to change the way he protests. In the eyes of the people, he is degrading the iconic symbol of the national anthem.