The images of the past week will live on forever. The innocent lives lost for no reason, the buildings burning and those in my profession being attacked. It angers me and it saddens me to see all of this death, destruction, and chaos. All of this got me thinking back to one name. A man who took a stand around all of the injustice that he saw around him.
This man was cast out by an entire professional sports organization. He was torn down by millions. Nike saw its clothes and shoes burned because Nike wanted to invest in this man and the message he was trying to send.
The problem? No one was willing to listen to the core of the message and some saw him as someone who wanted clout by protesting silently They looked at his upbringing and noted he wasn’t victimized by the police.
He was nothing but a man who was looking for attention to a cause by taking a knee during the national anthem. Three minutes, one day a week, for 20-some weeks of the season. More of his peers joined in, and the more who joined in his protest, the louder the voices of opposition were.
It was claimed they did it to disrespect the flag, the troops and whatever reason folks could think of. Their act of protest was nothing more than a cry for attention to those oppressed. Despite being millionaire athletes, they wanted to shine a light on others.
I remember the day I took a picture of Buena Vista University football players and cheerleaders taking a knee during the anthem. It was their right to protest as they saw fit, and yet, they were called out for their silent protest.
One of my favorite comments wasn’t about the players, or the message, or anything else. Rather it was someone asking “what was the photographer doing taking a photo instead of paying attention to the anthem.”
Does anyone ask that during an NFL game when the cameras are panning around the players or other photographers are capturing the moment? Just curious.
Still, the backlash from those were many and soon it was stopped. The famous NFL player found himself out of the league because he was a bad P.R. case. We forgot his original message.
Millions around the world are protesting the very thing that Colin Kaepernick was taking a knee for during the national anthem.
Professional athletes, coaches, owners, top-tier announcers and so many others in our little realm of sports have the voice to make the change needed to stop the very things people are protesting about on the street.
Yet, when an athlete speaks up about an issue, they are told to stay in their lane and focus on their ability on the field. You and me? It’s fine to have a conversation about it, but when a famous athlete tries to use their fame and their voice for good, what is it met with?
“Stay in your lane” attitude.
How is it that most of us can get on our Facebook page or someone else’s and leave all these comments? We have freedom of speech. So why don’t they? Why do we think they need to stay focused on what they can do with a football, basketball or baseball? Why do we feel compelled to stomp out their opinion because they make a good amount of scratch playing ball?
I cannot think of a valid reason as to why they are denied that right. In order to have a rational discussion about life, about these issues our country is facing, everyone needs to have his or her voice be heard. Men and women with this ability to be seen and heard more than you or I need to be at the forefront of these conversations.
We have to listen to each other, not just wait for our turn to speak without taking in a message from someone else. More than half the people didn’t want to listen to Kaepernick and boycotted an entire league.
This is what divides us. We let other sources tell us what he wanted to do instead of listening to the man himself. And if someone did listen to his own words, they still may have gone the other way because they didn’t take it in.
Everyone has a voice. Everyone has a right for their voice to be heard. Everyone will see their opinions loved, hated, or ignored. It’s one of the joys of living in this country, to have our voices. But let everyone have theirs even if you don’t agree with it.
It’s the only way we’ll grow and create change.