Two-hundred fifty years ago, the founding fathers of this great nation sat in a steamy room and discussed the terms of our freedom. They declared that we the people were not going to stand for tyranny anymore, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were natural human rights, and that Americans had the right to all of those and more as members of a new, free nation. A handful of years later, these freedoms would be more specifically outlined in the Constitution. The VERY first of these rights are the freedoms of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly, and the freedom to petition the government.
The First Amendment is arguably one of the most important to the American people, and as recent news stories will show, one of the most controversial (although I believe I would put the Second Amendment at the top of that list). One would have to be living in a hole under a rock to not know what is happening with Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem before his games. For those of you who may not know what is going on, Kaepernick is the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He has stopped standing for the Star Spangled Banner due to the ongoing police violence against African-Americans. He feels that his race is being disrespected by this country and that because of this, he should not have to stand for a flag that has not stood for him. This has sparked outcry from the American people condemning his actions, some even going as far as telling him to leave the country if he does not feel respected by it. On the opposite end, there are many who agree with his display of malcontent and some have even joined him including Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder for the U.S. Women’s National soccer team & member of the LGBT community.
When President Obama was asked his opinion on the matter, he simply said Kaepernick was, “exercising his Constitutional right.” In one moment, he was enacting his freedom of speech and peaceful protest for a cause, that he believes, deserves more attention.
Let me tell you something: Colin Kaepernick and his $19,000,000 annual salary do not care that you think he should leave this country. He does not care that you are offended by his decision to remain seated during the national anthem. What he does care about, is that now you are talking about him. You are directly feeding into what he was trying to do and that was to garner attention for the treatment of Black people in this country.
It is my opinion that if you are truly disgusted by his decision to exercise his rights as an American, then you should stop talking about him. You should stop giving him the attention he desires to make a change in the free world. Because no matter what your stance is on the issue, he wins.
I also think we need to switch this conversation from “how dare you” to “how great is this.” In any given country around the world, one could be imprisoned, assaulted, or even killed for not standing for the national anthem, pledge of allegiance, or any of the like. You don’t see the military hauling him off of the field to have him disciplined. We need to celebrate & defend our rights. It’s what sets us a part and what makes the United States of America one of the greatest countries in the world, even with all of the work there is still left to do. We need to understand that our opinions matter to no one but ourselves. Freedom of speech comes with a LOT of differing opinions, and the price we pay is realizing that not all of us will be understood or even heard. I know that pouring my feelings into this post is just another shout into the void, but I am grateful to live in a country where I have the ability to do it.
God Bless the United States of America.