Whether You Stand or Take a Knee, I’ve Got Your Back

Whether You Stand or Take a Knee, I’ve Got Your Back.jpg

By Catherine Miele

Conflicted would be the word to describe my feelings of late.

On the one hand, I’m hopeful. I love my country, I love the people in it, and I love the kind things we do for one another, especially when our neighbors are down on their luck or hurting.

But the vitriol and the hate. I’d be remiss to ignore the negative emotions clouding over us, to pretend that we live in our own little American utopia, when so much division, hostility, and pain surround us.

I’m referring to the remarks spewed from President Trump’s mouth at a rally in Alabama concerning the NFL players who’ve chosen to kneel during our national anthem and display their right to free speech through peaceful protest.

No matter how you feel about the kneeling, no president should ever—ever!—refer to an American citizen—minority, or not—as a “son of a bitch.”

Here’s the thing. Much like Kate Kole shared in her eloquent post, “It’s Our Moral Obligation To Be Decent,” I have enjoyed relative privilege my entire life.

I’m white and middle class. My parents sent me to a reputable 4-year college and encouraged me to pursue my passions and aim high in my endeavors.

I’ve never personally experienced true prejudice nor have I been profiled or told I cannot do something because of my skin color, religion, sexuality, or gender.

Before I was born, both my father and grandfather served in the United States Air Force and the United States Army, respectively, and while I wouldn’t say I grew up in a military family, I have a deep respect for our servicemen. I applaud their dedication and I am grateful for their sacrifices.

I realize how important The Star-Spangled Banner is to my fellow Americans, especially to those who’ve bravely defended my rights and freedoms, and yet I cannot—and will not—concede that the right to peaceful protest in the public eye isn’t among those freedoms.

Do I agree with the NFL protestors? To the extent that racism is still alive and injustices occur daily in America and must stop, then yes, I wholeheartedly agree.

I admire anybody who takes a stand—or a knee—for their beliefs. Likewise, I admire those who choose to remain standing on the field because of theirs.

When did we reach a point where any disagreement negates common decency and respect?

Whether you believe the football field is the best stage for protest is irrelevant. Whether you would stand with your hand over your heart as you emotionally mouth the words to our national anthem is irrelevant.

Whether you’ve never personally experienced prejudice or outright cruelty because of your skin color, gender, or religion is irrelevant because thousands of other Americans have and do every single day. The absence of struggle in your own life does not mean that pain and injustice are nonexistent!

We must open our hearts to the realities surrounding us. We must practice empathy. And we must be open to dialogue.

I think it’s normal—patriotic, even—that we disagree with the venue and method to voice our grievances.

In fact, I’m not even sure that the football field is the best place to make a statement (or that I would do the same), and I absolutely feel that protestors should do more—whether it’s march, donate money to charities, mentor a young student, etc.—to advance their causes.

What I am sure of is that we have to be open-minded and accepting of those who disagree with us. We have to be willing to see the world—with its myriad privileges and injustices—through the eyes of other citizens. And we have to be ready to engage in civil discourse and not the shouting matches and verbal assassinations that occur daily on our airwaves.

Look deep within your heart. If you truly do not believe that injustice exists in our beautiful country, then I urge you to look even deeper. And when you find something about which you are passionate, I implore you to use your platform—be it a newspaper column, a campaign for public office, a classroom, or, yes, a football field—to speak out.

Whether you choose to stand or choose to take a knee, I’ve got your back. I hear you, and I care about you, and I want us to work together to make this country better for all of its citizens.


Catherine is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via The New York Times}

3 thoughts on “Whether You Stand or Take a Knee, I’ve Got Your Back

  1. Bad Wolf says:

    Look, it’s really simple: If you are more upset with the fact that football players aren’t standing during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner than the fact that cops are killing blacks with impunity, then you are part of the problem.

    Liked by 2 people

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