If there are three things Americans love they are food, free stuff, and football, at least up until recently. Over the past year, however, there have been cases where there has been some controversy over this nationally loved sport.
Of course I am talking about some things that involve plays, teams, or scores, right? Wrong. During the past year, some people involved in the sport have used the platform that The National Football League (NFL) has to talk about some pretty important things.
During the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show, Beyoncé decided to address a very important issue that is going on in the country: race relations. In her performance, she and her dancers dressed up as the members of the Black Panther Party to pay homage to the political movement the party embodied.
For those unaware, the Black Panther Party was a party created to protect black people in their neighborhoods from acts of police brutality.
Many people thought, though, that this was an inappropriate time for the matter to be talked about and some thought it was dividing a country at a time when they needed to be pulled together.
Talking about innocent people dying and wanting justice for their deaths divides a county? Who knew?
The latest person who has been causing a lot of controversy is San Francisco 49ers second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Ever since the preseason games of the 2016-2017 season, Kaepernick has sat or kneeled during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.
When asked why he was doing this during a postgame interview, Kaepernick responded: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, 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”.
A lot of this comes from the recent events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Kaepernick added that he would continue to protest until he feels like “[the American flag] represents what it’s supposed to represent”.
But are Kaepernick’s protests actually making a change? The point of a protest is to bring awareness to a certain topic or issue that one or many may have a problem with.
But what happens when you have already made people aware about the way you feel about a certain issue? What happens next? Do you continue to do the same thing, or just throw in the towel?
Kaepernick has decided to do the same thing until he gets what he wants: to see change. However, what exactly is he doing to actually make the change happen? Unfortunately, kneeling down during the national anthem does not actually create, fix, or repair laws and reforms.
I believe that the next step that Kaepernick, and many other leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement, need to take is to go from protesting to fighting for the actual reform. It is time for them to march to Capitol Hill and demand reform and laws to be placed by Congress and the rest of the government. They have found and earned their voice, now it is time for them to use it.
This is the only way for things to actually change in this country. The safety of people of color, especially black people, needs to be made into law. If people saw that there were actually consequences in harming minorities equal to harming someone from the majority, those who perpetrate racially-fueled attacks would think a lot harder about their actions against these marginalized groups.
Kaepernick’s strategy to use his platform as a way to inform and educate about an injustice he sees going on was very responsible, but it is still very risky. He could have lost everything by openly having an opinion. In fact, ever since he has decided to voice his opinions he has been verbally attacked by many and has even been sent many death threats throughout his protesting.
I challenge other people that have a platform to influence many people to fight for an issue they feel is important. No matter how small or large they believe it to be. Making sure that this world is a safe place for everyone is important, and it is time for those that lead us to say it too.