Athletes Stand Up for What is Right

By Mia L.

Have you ever been discriminated against or treated differently? If so, wouldn’t you want people to recognize or help? Racial inequality issues have been ignored by most in the athletic community. Professional athletes, such as Colin Kaepernick and Derrick Rose, began a movement against racial inequality. No one should be treated unfairly because of their color, so athletes are using their fame to spread social awareness on racial issues.

Colin Kaepernick is a representation of defying racial discrimination. On August 26th, 2016, Kaepernick started to gain attention when he sat through the national anthem. To, after a preseason game on August 26th, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” On September 1st, Colin Kaepernick took a knee for the first time during the national anthem, which was a big turning point.  The kneeling started to spread not only through the NFL, but other sports as well. Megan Rapinoe, a soccer player for the US Women’s National Team, also took a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Brandon Marshall, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos took a knee as well. A few other players in the NFL from the Dolphins, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Patriots took action and started to kneel. Then, kneeling started to spread to local level society like Garfield High School in New Jersey and Sacramento High School in California. People were divided on whether taking a knee was right. Donald Trump, the president of the United States, openly rejected kneeling during the anthem. “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!” Trump tweeted.  Broncos fan, Wayne Ortega, disagreed with Donald Trump and openly agrees with the take-a-knee protest. “Players should not be punished for voicing their opinions,” Ortega said. Colin Kaepernick drew attention to discrimination and got many people talking about this issue.

“I can’t breathe,” said Eric Garner, while the officer from the New York City Police Department choked him to death. He was selling untaxed cigarettes. Eric Garner told the policeman he was tired of being harassed and that he was not selling cigarettes. As the officer went to arrest Garner, he pulled his arms away, and then the officer put his arms around Garner’s neck and took him to the ground with no shame. Even though Eric Garner was breaking the law, there was no right for that officer to kill him. Derrick Rose and a group of other NBA basketball players knew what was right and they took a stand. Derrick Rose wore a black t-shirt that said: “I can’t breathe” on December 6, 2014, during pregame warm-ups and so did LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Garnett, and Deron Williams on December 8th, 2014. “I’m a parent now,” Rose said. “I had a kid two years ago. It probably would have been different [before his son was born]. I probably wouldn’t have worn the shirt. But now that I’m a dad, it’s just changed my outlook on life, period.  Deron Williams was also very passionate about this situation and couldn’t just sit back and watch. Williams said, “I mean, you can see the [Garner] video and you know what happened. It’s not one of those things where people are saying this and the cops are saying that. It’s there for you to see. You just feel bad that a man lost his life because of that.” Derrick Rose and many other basketball players used their power, they helped spread social awareness on important issues that people are ignoring. The athletes that are speaking out and putting their career at risk are important to this society. Derrick Rose and the other ball players used the power of social media to create awareness.

As you can see, athletes are a very big help in spreading social awareness of racial issues. Colin Kaepernick, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Eric Reid, and the rest of the athletes that stood up brought attention to racial discrimination. These athletes put their careers at risk. Colin Kaepernick now has no career; he is still not signed to a NFL team because of his controversial actions. No team wanted to be connected with the negative attention that surrounded the protest. While the NFL did take notice of Kaepernick’s protest, the NBA looked the other way and did not take action against its players. In my personal opinion, it all depends on the demographic of the league and the audience of the league. To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.

Student Bio

Mia L.

2018 Summer Program

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