Opinion: It’s OK to take a knee, but leave Nike out of it


Illustrated by Ana Le

Kymoria Mottley, Staff Writer

On Sept. 6, Nike launched an ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. The former NFL player has been under fire for starting the trend of peacefully protesting police brutality and other social injustices by kneeling for the national anthem. Kaepernick began the movement in 2016.

As a person of color, I completely understand Kaepernick’s reasons for kneeling. It seems to be happening more and more these days that black people are gunned down in the street for doing absolutely nothing. Innocent people are being murdered, wrongfully imprisoned and violated by the police. The very people who are supposed to be our protectors are getting away with it.

Social activists and concerned citizens alike have been trying to stop the injustice for years, but their efforts have fallen on deaf ears. That’s why Kaepernick kneeled. And maybe that has absolutely nothing to do with police brutality, but it did turn heads. Kneeling during the national anthem caught everyone’s attention, and it gave Kaepernick a voice and a platform. This time, people listened.

According to a story on www.nfl.com, Kaepernick told Steve Wyche that, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick didn’t come up with the idea to kneel sporadically. According to an interview with ESPN, he originally planned to sit. However, former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks player Nate Boyer wanted him to stand. The players talked and eventually found common ground. To respectfully protest the injustice, Kaepernick would kneel.

“Once again, I’m not anti-American,” Kaepernick has said. “I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better.”

While flag codes speak against things we do every day, such as wearing the flag on our clothing, they say nothing about being required to stand. Of course, people everywhere were infuriated anyway. Some believe that Kaepernick’s refusal to stand is disrespectful to our country’s soldiers and veterans. However, many veterans fought for and support Kaepernick’s right to protest and his cause. A letter written in support of Kaepernick by U.S. Army veteran Richard Allen Smith, with signatures from other veterans, was published on theundefeated.com.

In part, the letter states, “While we would not all personally choose to protest in a manner identical to Kaepernick, we respect and honor his choice, and whole heartedly join him in stating unequivocally that BLACK LIVES MATTER. The current state of affairs for people of color in America is unsustainable and unacceptable. … Far too often, people of color are dying at the hands of law enforcement personnel in the streets, our jails, and their homes.”

Now, two years after the kneeling controversy started, consumers who don’t support Kaepernick are destroying their Nike products in retaliation of the ad. I believe that there is no need to protest Nike, but if it is truly necessary, there is a better way to do it.

Millions of people are less fortunate than we are. Some people don’t have nice shoes and clothes. Instead of destroying things, donate them. Help your fellow American people. That’s what Kaepernick is trying to do. He’s protesting police brutality and racism, not America. Nike is smart enough to know the difference.