Peacefully protesting will lead to real change

Peacefully protesting will lead to real change

Peacefully protesting will lead to real change
October 25
07:41 2017

America was founded upon ideas of freedom and liberty. However, the history of the United States hasn’t completely lived up to its pledge of allegiance in “liberty and justice for all”. The pledge of allegiance was adopted on Columbus Day in 1892, 400 years after Christopher Columbus first discovered North America in the European eye. However, it wasn’t until after hundreds of years of slavery and racism that the United States’ government finally recognized all human beings to be equal in 1954.

In the past 60 years, our country has made progress towards living up to our pledge of allegiance in “liberty and justice for all.” However, racism and hatred are still sadly prevalent across America today. Video recording capabilities on cell phones have only been around for ten years, and with that, the rise of social media platforms has brought to light many cases of police brutality occurring against unarmed minorities in America.

While the wounds of inequality are still healing every day, and more viral videos leak, more tension is being brought about between the police and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.

With the freedom of speech, professional athletes are using their national platform to protest the evils they are seeing repeatedly occur. Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled for the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 NFL Season, said that “This is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Professional athletes are celebrities with voices and actions that are seen at the national level. Colin Kaepernick accomplished his mission in bringing the conversation to the forefront about the injustices still occurring in our free country.

However, a counter debate to the kneeling during the anthem is lead by the current President of the United States.

President Donald Trump tweetedIf a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect… our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Taking the stance that citizens “should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag” is both authoritative and dangerous. I have great respect for my friends and family that have served in the military, but I do not owe my life to a piece of cloth or an anthem being played. If human beings are seeing injustices facing their fellow citizens and choose to protest, they should be able to freely exercise their right to do so.

I also believe that the owners of these teams have the full right to fire or suspend players for doing so. Professional teams are privately owned and may fire employees that do not represent them.

“I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.” Colin Kaepernick said. “If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

I believe authoritative nationalism is very detrimental to a free society. Every being should have the right to their own freedom and liberty. A President telling his citizens they “should not be allowed to disrespect” the flag and the country is reminiscent of dictator-like leadership. The idea of American citizens owing their life to the government is evil and that once we become an adult, we must sign our life away to a war draft, is outrageous.

Every day I think about how grateful I am to live in a free country, but this place is far from perfect and I believe speaking up and protesting is the only way real change will happen.

While President Trump and others claim that these protests are disrespecting the military and the flag, there is a #VeteransForKaepernick movement happening. Veteran Jason Taylor tweetedI served 21 years to defend freedoms to protest injustice. #VeteransForKaepernick”.

America was built on our Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. — That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

Peaceful protest is exactly how genuine change can come to fruition.

Since Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling, a greater conversation has started, and I believe it has made a positive impact on police and community relations. The government and the police hold a monopoly of power in the United States, but they derive their powers from the consent of the governed. Speak up for what you believe in.

Featured illustration by Max Raign

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Garron Weeks

Garron Weeks

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