Why They Kneel

By Vanessa Rivers

On August 26, 2016, NFL player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the National anthem.  He was kneeling as a peaceful protest to bring attention to the rapidly growing number of police killings, of unarmed black men, women and children, who hadn’t committed any crimes.   It is now two years later, and people are still outraged that black NFL players are kneeling, and they continue to demand that they stand, because they feel that not doing so, is disrespectful to the anthem, flag, military and country.   Outrage is always the reaction when black people in America have the audacity to exercise their constitutional rights.  There’s always a push back and backlash when black people stand up for equality and equity, and this situation is no different.

I’ve read many articles here and elsewhere of ideas on how to handle this “kneeling thing”.  Some have said to fine the player’s or play the anthem before the players take the field, and others think that the anthem shouldn’t be played at all.  Knowing the history of this country, I shouldn’t be surprised that no one has suggested, what should be obvious; that police officers must stop killing unarmed black people, who are experiencing life, by doing everyday activities that white people enjoy, like walking, running, driving, sitting, standing, lying down, breathing, and just recently, enjoying the sanctity of their own home.

Police officers use unwarranted and excessive force, which takes the lives of unarmed black people, without the fear of the accountability, that ultimately would lead to criminal charges.   We compare this to the accountability resulting in prompt arrests, and then excessive sentencing, that black people are subjected to, even though whites commit similar or worse crimes.    Mr. Kaepernick, and the other black players who are still kneeling, know, that when the game is over, and when they take off their uniforms, they are just as likely, without committing any crimes, end up,” dead-by-cop”, just like any other black person.  Two years later, there are rarely any arrests, or charges levied by DA’s or grand juries.  Many of these officers remain on the same police force, while others leave and are immediately hired by other agencies.

Take for example a “dead-by-cop” event befell Mr. Tashii Brown, a resident of Las Vegas, NV who was at a strip property and a cop said that he was “acting strangely”.  Mr. Brown began to run outside of the hotel towards a near-by parking lot.  The cop said that “he thought that Mr. Brown was going to attempt to steal a truck”, ya know, black folks just love them some trucks to steal.  At first the cop uses his taser, then he punches Mr. Brown in his head several times, and finally he puts him into a chokehold for more than a minute, until he died.  Mr. Brown hadn’t committed any crimes, and the police department has stated that IF he would have lived, he wouldn’t have been arrested.  SO WHY IN THE HELL IS HE DEAD?  Mr. Brown’s life was taken because a cop, “thought”, that he was committing a crime, so he chased down a man to kill him, right?  Nah, the grand jury saw no reason to bring the cop up on charges.  NO REASON??  Silly me, we’re only talking about the life of a black man, and we all know how much that is worth; ZERO!  Once again, no one is being held accountable.  As the list of names of unarmed black people continues to grow, some are covered on the news, and some are only known by their families and friends, these players will continue to use their platform to bring attention to this horror, even though their careers may end like Mr. Kaepernick’s.

This is my advice to those who want them to stop kneeling:

  • Care enough, about your fellow Americans, to push for changes in police procedures and policies of when to use deadly force.
  • Demand that when unarmed black people are killed, that the incidents aren’t swept under the rug like we don’t matter.
  • And finally, we need for you to vote in District Attorney’s, police Chiefs and Sherriff’s who will demand that their officers serve every community with dignity and respect, and when they violate procedures, and especially when a life is taken needlessly and negligently then, someone is held accountable, even when, those lives are black.

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