On August 26, 2016, before the 2016 election, NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem of a preseason game to raise awareness of police brutality and white nationalism. Kaepernick and others are speaking out against mass incarceration and violent policing.
Taking a knee is not about the flag, but is rather a courageous stand for justice. To quote Kaepernick: “I am not going to stand up [during the anthem] for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Kaepernick and other athletes are exercising their free speech in the context of militarized sporting events. The Department of Defense paid $5.4 million to fourteen NFL teams between 2011 and 2014 for military displays including fly-overs, Jumbotron veteran salutes, and recruiting efforts. Such activity by the Pentagon represents two crucial elements of Fascism: powerful and continuing nationalism, and supremacy of the military.
By taking a knee, we are taking a stand for criminal justice reform and for democracy. As a member of Grassroots Alexandria who is committed to opposing white nationalism, I invite others to join me.