#TakeAKnee movement causes controversy in the sports world

Peaceful kneeling as a form of protest has gained more traction by sports viewers across the nation.

The #TakeAKnee movement has grown since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was criticized for sitting down during the National Anthem; now, more acclaimed sports players have taken a knee in protest against both police brutality and racial injustice that has ceased to end throughout the nation.  

With the rise in controversy over the #TakeAKnee movement, the conflict has become: when is the right time for black people to protest?

The answer is simple — there will never be a right time for black people to protest the injustice they have been dealt because oppressors never want to hear the afflictions of the oppressed.

In a 1961 Gallup poll taken during the Civil Rights Movement, participants were asked whether or not “’sit-ins’ at lunch counters, ‘freedom buses,’ and other demonstrations by Negroes will hurt or help the Negro’s chances of being integrated in the South.”

57 percent agreed that these demonstrations were hurting their cause.

This remains true to today’s demonstrations with people of color constantly being met with disdain by people who disagree with any form of protest these groups take.

It’s not the act of protest that causes backlash; it’s the seemingly unbelievable idea that black people would have any reason to protest when they are so privileged to live in America.

But citizenship doesn’t guarantee equality.

As members of our hyper-patriotic country have argued, standing for the flag is standing for the freedom that the United States is entitled to deliver its inhabitants. It’s saying, Yes, I am proud to live freely in this country and respect those who feel the same.

Yet, time and time again, we’ve watched black communities take to the streets in response to racial injustice, proving that this freedom to coexist is, in fact, nonexistent. Every single time, unsympathetic whites have always been looming over them. They wonder why there isn’t another way for these groups to express their frustrations. Those same whites are the first to condemn black protestors for voicing their anger through silent, peaceful and respectful forms of protest such as kneeling.

In youth sports, taking a knee indicates a player has been injured. For a moment, both teams recognize human vulnerability among the chaos of running and passing and tackling.

So as players in national leagues take a knee for African Americans, they are signaling distress and suffering. They are collectively protesting the discriminatory police brutality that this country has thrust upon them.

The world of sports has long served as a platform to call out forms of social injustice, and as history would tell you, each scenario has been met with oppressors’ rejection of the oppressed.

Five St. Louis Rams players marched onto the field with hands raised in the “don’t shoot” pose. They were decrying the death of Michael Brown, who was killed at the hands of police brutality in 2014. In response to this exercising of free speech, the local police called for the Rams players’ punishment by the National Football League.

In another instance in the same year, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and other National Basketball Association players wore shirts with “I can’t breathe” in response to the unarmed killing of Eric Garner. Garner, accused of selling untaxed cigarettes, was placed into a chokehold by police who were trying to subdue him. His cries of being unable to breathe were ignored, leading to his undeserved death.

Quick to dismiss the call to injustice, Geraldo Rivera took to Fox News’ “Race in America” to voice his disapproval.

“I wondered to myself,” Rivera said, “what if Lebron James instead had a shirt, ‘Be a better father to your son.’”

Rivera, ignorant to the protest’s meaning, decided that James should’ve focused on a stereotypical issue within black communities instead of using his fame to take a stance against the brutal killing of Garner. This is just another example of black people peacefully protesting social injustice only to receive criticism and disapproval.

With professional athletes getting paid millions for their talents, critics including the president have questioned how those who have profited the most by this country can feel oppressed. Some groups have assumed that the small portion of black people who have worked and earned millions are free from discrimination.

But this is not the case. Even with the fortune that James has surmounted, his house in Los Angeles was defaced with racial slurs back in June, proving that success does not shield you from discrimination.

The simple solution to this protest controversy is clear: never speak out against police brutality. Keep it in your homes, private and separate so as to not upset the lives of white supremacists, corrupt police and politicians and those complacent with them because it does not directly impact their livelihood.

Change has never been simple, and causing controversy only means that voices are being heard. There is never a right time to protest; there will always be groups who are oblivious to or supportive of social injustice and are willing to silence whoever doesn’t share their views.

But there is a wrong time to stay complacent, and that time is now.

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