American Flag

Enough is enough. If you do not like this country, then leave. We all know the U.S. is far from being innocent, but not all of its people subscribe to racism and hatred for their fellow man. However, a certain NFL player takes umbrage with the nation he makes millions in, and allows him to express himself freely without penalty. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he would not honor a country that suppressed blacks or other people of color. There is gross social injustice, but there are other avenues to combat the problem. It has been in the news for weeks.

Kaepernick, 28, knelt during the National Anthem in preseason against Green Bay, and has continued to do so. Fine, he made his point. The backup quarterback said he is not anti-American--he just wants to shine a light on racial injustices. But now more athletes from grade school through college are following the lead. 49ers safety Eric Reid showed support for his teammate during the National Anthem for the season opener against the Rams. Robert Quinn of the Rams offered solidarity by pumping his fists during the song. Former NFL players chimed in support of the protest, but are against the methods. Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward addressed the controversy and posted on Instagram that. "Our National Anthem stands for our freedom for all Americans regardless of color. It symbolizes the very reason Kaepernick is able to speak his mind and exercise his First Amendment rights," he said.

In Brooklyn, NY a councilman refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at a City Hall meeting over the lack of accountability given to the NYPD, Newsday reported. Jumaane Williams, democrat, said he was supporting Kaepernick in his protest. Doesn't the Pledge of Allegiance reflect the good things of the country? It is "disrespectful," one council man said about the action. Councilman Eric Ulrich of Queens explained to the New York media that it is Williams' right to object. However, it was "inappropriate." What was more disgusting was the protest of players during the 9/11 anniversary. Images of athletes like Dolphins' Arian Foster knelt in protest against police brutality behind Marines holding an American flag. It struck another chord--outrage. However, sales for Kaepernick's jersey continue to soar, and he said the money will be donated to help others. "I wasn't expecting my jersey sales to jump to number one because of this, but it shows the people's belief that we can achieve justice and equality for ALL," he posted on Instagram.

And kids are taking cues from their heroes. During the mornings at a middle school in Pearland, Texas, children gather in the gym for a moment of silence and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Skyla Madria, 10, said she decided that kneeling would be better. She told Click 2 Houston that Kaepernick inspired her to take action, and shared that reciting parts of the Anthem were wrong. Now, community activists are supporting the efforts. "The Star-Spangled Banner" has four verses, but the one omitted is considered racist. It reads: "No refuge could save the hireling and slave--from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave. A hireling means a person who works for material reward." Additionally, many do not know this, but we only sing the first verse of the song. It is believed that the British promised slaves that they would be freed if they fought against the colonies during the War of 1812, and this line has been omitted.

The song was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Baltimore, a land and sea battle between the British and Americans in the busy port. The war inspired Key to write a poem Defense of Fort McHenry, which then became the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Banner." The war of 1812 is not talked about much as history explained that the U.S. acted in aggression by trying to take Canada from the British. Again, we never said that America has a spotless record. Quanell X is the leader of the New Black Panther Party in Houston, who is supporting Madira. "Why would we ask any African American child or citizen to stand up and honor a flag with an anthem written by a slave owner who promised nothing but turmoil to blacks to the grave?" African Americans were brutalized in the country for years, the argument here is not that people are dismissive of this fact, but there are people under the same flag who fought to free those who were slaves, and today stand for equality.

Famous abolitionists were U.S. Governor Salmon Chase, publisher William Garrison, and Susan B. Anthony, and both activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton supported freedom for all. People of all colors supported Mather Luther King, Jr., who was a true hero. The Pledge has undergone some changes over the years. In 1924 the "my flag" was replaced with "the flag of the United States of America." It was officially recognized in 1945 and in 1954, Congress added "under God" during the Cold War. As far as "The Star-Bangle-Banner," it's played to honor the military and our enjoyed freedoms before sports events, and has a long tradition.

During the 1918 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox song spread in popularity across the nation. Kaepernick is just making a mockery, little change will happen if he continues. However, people of all ages continue to join the cause, fueling the division. Football fans should be outraged as the protests takes away from the team and the fun of the game. The advice for players for wanting to be disruptive should be to leave the protests outside the stadium, and just play ball. If you believe that this country is so bad, then leave it. By turning this into a positive we can make a change that impacts others, the right way--not on the field, at school, or at City Hall. We need to take action, but like Ward offered there is the correct platform. However, maybe if we look at the kneeling another way, it could also be viewed as a sign of respect.

What do you think of the social climate of our country?

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