Protest Of Allegiance: Insolent Or Insightful?

illustration by Jada Henry

illustration by Jada Henry

Jada Henry, executive editor

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Fourty-niners football player Colin Kaepernick sparked controversy throughout the nation when he began a peaceful protest against social injustice in America. His protest focuses on increased police brutality against black Americans in light of murders of citizens like Alton Sterling and Philander Castile. Many followed suit by taking a knee at national sporting events during the national anthem, or even refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance in school settings, but this action came with its handful of opposers.

Students across the nation who support Kaepernick’s efforts to bring the issue of police brutality to the forefront have been faced with protesters claiming that their actions are “disrespectful” or “in bad taste”, these labels and comments often coming from their own classmates or instructors. The absurdity of others who automatically label social protestors as disrespectful anti nationalists is counterintuitive when the pledge recited. “…And liberty and justice for all” fails to ring true for pro Kaepernick protestors who are persecuted for exercising their rights under freedom.

“I support not standing for the flag for whatever reason you choose. This is America [and] you should be able to choose to stand or not. If you don’t want to stand, if you want to kneel, that is your prerogative,” senior Stephanie Barton stated.

“I think [Kaepernick’s] reason is a good reason. He’s trying to call attention to a big issue that many Americans aren’t paying attention to,” she continued in support of the protests stance on the social injustices of the nation.

Her argument supports the debate of Native Americans having the right to stand or not to stand for the pledge and those who do not support the slave owning lyricist of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key. The eerie irony of Native Americans standing for a pledge that was used by the same people who conquered and imposed mass genocide of their native ancestors should spark a since of recompense, although America continuously proves to cut natives short as time progresses. Much like their fellow minority many African Americans, myself included, question the overall values in the original national anthem, which held the verse “no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”. If the national anthems freedom was never intended for blacks what makes the enforcement of fair freedoms ensured to them and other minorities now?

“He’s not trying to disrespect anyone, especially veterans and the armed forces, but he needed to protest in a way that would get people’s attention. I support his protest because I support his cause” Stephanie said. I can’t help but to wonder why opposers of the protest are so uptight about trying to create peace with peace. Why has it become so disrespectful or distasteful to put fellow Americans lives before standing for the national anthem at a sporting event or standing for the flag at school? Not standing for the flag won’t kill anyone, but not paying any mind to blatant criminality perpetrated by those who are supposed to protect us.

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The student news site of Little Rock Central High School