There is a recent trend in the sports community where many black athletes are taking a knee against racism. Throughout the past week, I have heard a lot of white students ask, “so why exactly are they taking a knee?” and the most popular answer I have heard from all these conversations is “they are taking a knee because of what Trump said.” If you are among the people who gave this answer this week or you also have no idea why many people are taking a knee, then this piece is for you.
The “take a knee” movement did not start because of Donald Trump; it started because of racism. It is a sign of protest and not disrespect. When the violence at Charlottesville happened over the summer, Trump said that both sides were to blame. All I could think was, “if the President of the United States thinks that people should be blamed for protesting racism, then there is a huge problem.” His way of thinking is disturbing, but what is more disturbing is the fact that there are still people out here who actually think like him and support him.
According to journalist and racial activist Shaun King, “the harshest language Trump has ever used as President was reserved for black men protesting injustice,” and this is the sad reality that we are all forced to be in. Even as a non-American, there is a common idea I have always known, which is that every citizen has freedom, but where your freedom stops is where another starts. This simply means that even your freedom has a limit and this limit is when you start affecting other people.
So many people have stated that white supremacists are just expressing their freedom of speech, and that is absolutely right; they have the freedom to speak up. What they don’t have the freedom to do is spread hate and discriminate against other people. The moment your views directly and indirectly hurt people, your freedom ceases to exist. I am not writing to justify or question your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. I am writing to let you know that it is not okay to be racist and it is not okay to support a racist leader.
If you find yourself getting pissed off at people seeking justice through kneeling down during the national anthem or protesting through Black Lives Matter and other groups, then you are the problem. Maybe you should shift your anger to the justice system that has continuously failed your fellow Americans because of their skin color. If kneeling down during the national anthem makes you angry, then the deaths of Philando Castille, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and many names that have never gotten justice to this day should make you angrier. If you think all lives matter, then you should make sure that all lives have equal opportunities and justice.
White privilege is being pulled over by the police and feeling comfortable enough to have a conversation and walk away free. White privilege is being able to apply for a job and know that your name won’t get judged. White privilege is the fact that you can’t even explain racism because you believe it does not exist. If, in 2017, your argument to minority groups is “get over it,” then your privilege has really blinded you and I advise you educate yourself. Never tell minority groups to get over it, because oppression and injustice cannot be gotten over. Yes, slavery ended a long time ago, but racism is still a huge part of the society today.