In more cases than not, taking a knee is a sign of great respect. This is not only seen in ancient societies, such as the knighting of an individual in England, but also seen closer to home, on the playing fields that Americans love so dearly. For example, when a player is injured on the field of play, many players from both sides will kneel out of respect, but never in sports do you see kneeling as a sign of disrespect. That is until during the playing of the National Anthem; Colin Kaepernick so boldly knelt for the playing of our National Anthem before the preseason game at Levi’s stadium in San Francisco, California.
There has been a lot of controversy over Kaepernick’s debacle, and rightfully so. It seems that the United States as a country has become divisive with a majority of white Americans and military supporting families protesting Kaepernick’s actions. In contrast, a majority of the black American population support his stance and the black lives matter movement backs Kaepernick one hundred percent. Realistically Kaepernick’s explanation of his actions was vague in the post-game interview. Kaepernick alluded to his position; however, he never fully expressed in that interview that his protest sheds light on police brutality against black Americans. Kaepernick only stated that his people were oppressed, they are killed in the streets, and their killers are rewarded with paid leave for murder. One can conclude that he protests police brutality, but Kaepernick never completely explained his protest, in his much sought after interview.
Kaepernick’s protest poses absolutely no effect on law enforcement officers, who killed 223 black Americans in the year following Kaepernick’s protests according to data released in a Huffingtonpost article. The same article goes on to say that “It’s likely that more black people were killed by police during that period of time” [from the time of Kaepernick’s protest to the end of the year]. This can only conclude two things; blacks felt more empowered; therefore, more willing to test police officers because of the protests and to be known as martyrs, or that police officers exerted more force to show that the protest will not affect them in any way.
The United States has a problem with police brutality considering incidences such as the Philando Castile murder, the shooting of Michael Brown that lead to the Ferguson riot, and Eric Garner, a man choked to death in the streets of New York City. These occurrences were all the work of our law enforcement officials. As much of a problem that police brutality poses, there has also been an extreme increase of black on black crimes since 2016, when the protest was started. An article by the New York Post released the FBI crime logs for the year of 2016, and stated that black on black crimes rose in number by nine hundred compared to 2015. Black Americans are simply ignoring the outrageous number of the murder of their own kind, by their own kind, and focusing on a very small percentage of killings between law enforcement officers and black Americans. Some black Americans will also ignore the fact that black males have made up forty- two percent of cop killers in the last ten years, as stated by New York Post. Police officers now fear for their lives because of the drastic increase of police murders at the hands of black men is significantly higher. A study from National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago concludes that “half of all Americans, regardless of race, say fear caused by the physical danger that police officers face is a major contributor to aggression against civilians.”While cops fear for their lives in the line of duty, there is still no reason for the killing of innocent black Americans, like Philando Castile, or any Americans for that matter, by police officers.
When traveling most parts of the country, one observes cops patrolling towns daily and writing the occasional traffic violation. In other parts of the country, like the deep south, where oppression of black Americans still appears alive and well, one will see some, not all, cops using their power in a negative way. These cops are the ones that give all cops a bad name by trying to instill fear into civilians and abusing the power that they were given to “protect and serve.” This display of police brutality demonstrates racial tensions in the southern states that remain in place in America fifty years after turmoil for equality ravaged the country. With roots from slavery in the deep south, the southern states tend to be more racially prejudice than other areas in the country, possibly due to the antiquated rationale that blacks are slaves and plantation workers, never died.
The 2016 presidential election map shows a majority of the republican voters in southern states (Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Florida) who are predominantly white individuals. These white citizens of the deep south historically have roots to plantation owners, who owned land, which represented wealth and power. These white plantation owners needed slaves to work the fields and harvest crops such as cotton. Some slave owners passed down their land along with their opinions of black Americans on to future generations. Even though slavery was abolished in 1865 with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, the racism and prejudices that remain at the center of Kaepernick’s debate.
The feud between black and white Americans may never die in the United States. Some radical whites hold on to the traditions of the old south, with the notion of blacks as chattel slaves. Some me blacks will never relinquish of the fact that their ancestors were brutally kidnapped from Africa and forced into American slavery. Either way, slavery is in the past and it is the duty of Americans to move past it through learning the facts and black history. But education itself cannot overcome the prejudices and ignorance to black Americans. Both black and white Americans must learn to cast aside their opinions and respect each other as humans to unite in one great nation.
Donald, Heather Mac. “All That Kneeling Ignores the Real Cause of Soaring Black Homicides.” New York Post, New York Post, 27 Sept. 2017, nypost.com/2017/09/26/all-that-kneeling-ignores-the-real-cause-of-soaring-black-homicides/.
University of Chicago, NORC. “Law Enforcement and Violence: The Divide between Black and White Americans.” Law Enforcement and Violence: The Divide between Black and White Americans Issue Brief | APNORC.org | APNORC.org, http://www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/HTML%20Reports/law-enforcement-and-violence-the-divide-between-black-and-white-americans0803-9759.aspx.
Waldron, Travis. “Police Killed 223 Black Americans In Year After Colin Kaepernick’s First Protest.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Aug. 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colin-kaepernick-police-killings-black-americans_us_599c4099e4b04c532f447939.
“2016 Presidential Election Actual Results.” 270toWin.Com, http://www.270towin.com/maps/2016-actual-electoral-map.