Parents Should Be Proud of Kids Who Kneel During the National Anthem

football player kneels

Sports fans all over the country had an opinion when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the National Anthem in peaceful protest against police brutality. While not everyone agrees on Kaepernick's methods, it's clear that his actions have struck a chord. Not only are other NFL players following suit, but so are some of our nation's kids, from elementary school students to high school football players. And that's something for parents everywhere to be proud of.



Kaepernick has said that his protest is due to police brutality and the racism that black people face. If by taking a knee during his NFL games he brings awareness and possibly change, then I am all for it.

For many young athletes, Kaepernick is an inspiration, and many are joining him in taking a knee, peacefully showing their support for true racial equality in the US.

But what happens when your child decides to take a knee during the Anthem? And what are the possible penalties for standing up (er ... sitting down) for what he or she believes in?

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Six fifth-grade students in an undisclosed public school recently decided to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance. Their teacher described the occurrence on Twitter, and called the students brave. It's unclear if their actions had any consequences, but from the proud way their teacher shares the story, I'm hoping they weren't penalized in any way for quietly asserting themselves.

However, a different story played out recently in Worcester, Massachusetts. Michael Oppong, a senior at Doherty Memorial High School, took a knee during the National Anthem before his team took the field. Oppong stated that two days later he received a call from his coach informing him that he was suspended from the next game because of his actions.

After much protest, the school superintendent issued a statement saying that this was not the case and that Oppong is not suspended. Oppong noted that he will continue to take a knee during the Anthem as a way of quietly protesting the treatment of people of color in this country. And he's not the only high school athlete engaging in this form of peaceful protest: Football players from Indiana to New Jersey have been taking to their knees during the anthem. In Cleveland, a black high school football player has received racist backlash from his white teammates for kneeling and praying during the anthem:

Our kids are absorbing all of this. They are learning about the value in peaceful protest and that you can silently make a stand for what you believe in. Contrary to what many detractors have said, sitting or kneeling during the Anthem is not disrespectful. It is also not disrespectful to the armed services or any other flimsy argument folks are making.

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I pride myself in raising my son to be a strong person who will stand up for what he believes in. I hope I am raising him to be someone who will fight for what is right and just. If my son came to me and told me he wanted to sit down during the playing of the National Anthem at a sports event he's participating in, I would be okay with it.

I would even be proud.

The idea of peaceful protest is a powerful one. This one in particular is clearly engaging both adults and youth alike who understand the strength in this approach. The method might be simple, but the message is clear: Black and brown people in this country matter. Black lives matter. We need to be doing more to stop the systemic racism that still exists.

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Many (if not most) of the athletes and students taking a knee are people of color. I hope that their white friends and fellow athletes realize that they too can sit or kneel in protest to show that they support them.

Nobody should be penalized for peacefully making a point. It's not disruptive. It's not dangerous. And it is a striking thing to behold.

I hope students continue to be allowed to exercise their freedom and rights until the rights of all can be secured. For parents, it is our job to teach our kids how to be good citizens of the world, how to be brave, and how to stand up for what they believe in -- even if that means kneeling down.


Image via Rich





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