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Recently there has been an uprising against police brutality towards African Americans. The face of this revolution is Colin Kaepernick, a 30-year-old quarterback. In 2016 during one of his NFL games, he took a knee during the national anthem. He has not played in the NFL since that year. In the beginning, most people found this to be disrespectful towards the American anthem and flag but we later found out that he was bringing attention to an issue that needed to be addressed. The issue being the racial injustice shown by police officers towards African Americans. He became a big part of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. He became the face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary campaign. Its slogan was “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” Has he sacrificed his career or is he going to be even more famous for the movement he had the courage to start? (rhetorical question)
Police officers have stereotypes about African Americans that are unacceptable. They target African Americans for just being black. Young African American men are being stopped by police and if they move at all, police feel justified to shoot. As they think they are reaching for a gun. Many of these African American men who are shot to death are unarmed. Stephon Clark was shot to death in his grandparents backyard on March 18th when police confused his cell phone for a gun. African American men are being stereotyped.
A stereotype is defined as “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified idea or image of a particular type of person or thing.” (Google Dictionary) African Americans are being labeled by police as delinquents and criminals and are not given the same courtesies as the white people, who are now being referenced as privileged. Kaepernick’s protests have led to him losing his job in the NFL. The privileged pompous President (alliteration) Donald Trump is even involved in the conversation saying that NFL players who “take a knee” should be fired. The NFL has tried to marginalize Kaepernick and other players by banning taking a knee during the national anthem. Players who do take a knee are subject to a fine and some type of punishment . The definition of marginalizing is to “treat a person, group or concept as insignificant or peripheral.” (Google Dictionary) This is exactly what is happening, they are trying to push Kaepernick’s movement to the side and make people forget about it. But to President Trump’s and the NFL’s disappointment, the new Nike campaign has brought new breathe into the call to action. The movement is reaching larger and louder audiences.
I think we could say that American law enforcement has transgressed. To transgress is defined as to “infringe or go beyond the bounds of (a moral principle or other established standard of behavior).” (Google Dictionary) They are not being fair to African American youth or men. They are trigger happy the moment they see their dark skin (imagery). The sad part of this conversation is also that very few of these police officers are being found criminally negligent for their transgressions. For example, Freddie Gray a 25-year-old from Baltimore died seven days after he suffered a fatal spinal cord injury, following an arrest. He died on April 19, 2015. He was arrested for having a knife on him after making eye contact with a bike patrol officer. He was cuffed and put into a police van.
No one could explain how he sustained the spinal cord injury. Six Baltimore police officers were charged with Gray’s death. The first three were acquitted and the remaining three charges were dropped. A $6.4 million settlement was paid out to the Gray family. But justice was never truly served as the police got away with their behavior. Ironically eight months earlier in Fergson, Missouri, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old died after being shot 12 times by Officer Wilson. People say that Brown had his hands in the air and was surrendering when Officer Wilson opened fire. Officer Wilson was not indicted. This case launched reform. A federal investigation revealed a pattern of abuse by the mostly white police force against the city’s African Americans. The Justice Department found that “many officers apparently viewed some of the city’s black residents less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.” They were being ticketed for minor violations at a higher rate than white residents. The system has not been treating African America’s fairly, even the justice system was failing them. I personally support Kaepernick’s message.
There is a serious problem in the United States that needs fixing. Kaepernick’s message is important we have to stand up for what we believe is wrong in society. We have to stand up for inequalities. If people have the courage to stand up to injustices within society things will change. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. stood up for equal rights for African Americans and now African Americans have more rights than they did back then . Recently Jenifer Lewis, a star of the show ‘Black-ish’ wore Nike on the red carpet of the Emmy’s showing support towards Kaepernick. She is following in his movement. She is lending her support to his movement as is Lebron James, Serena Williams and Shaquem Griffin. All significant names in the sports world.
The Kaepernick movement has also launched a hashtag #ImWithKap. To be a trending hashtag you have to be a movement. We have to stand up for civil liberties, it happens too often. If we stand up things will change. Have the courage to stand up for change. Find the courage like the ones before, like those who stood up against slavery. (simile) What I don’t get is how can people be so ignorant that they believe Kaepernick is only taking a knee to disrespect the American flag and anthem while there’s a much bigger meaning than that. Kaepernick is standing up for a serious problem that affects many people’s daily lives. He is a hero in my mind. He has brought a lens to our divided society in the hopes of making everyone aware of racial injustice towards African Americans. An activist and a quarterback who thought the two would ever share a sentence.
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