Knee by Nelson Espinal

     Former 49ers quarter Colin Kaepernick, who sat down during the national anthem for the first preseason game of the 2016 season and continued to protest by taking a knee as the anthem played throughout the regular season, has no job in football.
     He protested during the anthem to highlight the issue of police brutality applied to people of color.
     Many football fans considered his gesture unpatriotic, ungrateful, and inappropriate.
     At the time of the protest, Kaepernick was not playing pro football at as high level as he once did.
     This added fuel to the opinion of critics who bashed Kaepernick for being selfish.
     They accused the quarterback of protesting so he could keep his job on a team, being that it would reflect poorly any team for cutting a player who is actively protesting a social issue.
     It is true Kaepernick is not a player who could take the NFL by storm; however, he was once immensely talented and could at the very least serve as a backup to a starter.
     Kaepernick stated his reason for kneeling during the national anthem quite clearly:
     “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said in published reports.
     Apart from protesting, Kaepernick has donated to charities on nine different occasions, the most recent being a $100,000 gift he donated on the first day of the NFL season.
     He spread his money to four different charities: DREAM, which provides after-school programs and youth sports, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Gathering for Justice’s War on Children, and a new charity program called United We Dream.
     Despite this, President Donald Trump joined the fray.
     He wrote: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect … our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
     Many felt the statement was a blatant disregard for players’ right to freedom of speech.
     Following the comments, many joined the demonstration, whether it be through kneeling, locking arms to show unity, raising a fist in the air, or simply sitting down.
     The protest of the national anthem spread.
     Critics said the players protesting were simply looking for publicity and not doing much to actually help their communities.
     Chris Long, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end who is white, debunked this notion. He donated money to fund scholarships for students from his hometown.
     “In August, we watched people fill our hometown streets with hatred and bigotry,” Long said in a statement. “Megan and I decided to try to combat those actions with our own positive investment in our community.”
     The NFL protests have now had a national impact.
     Therefore, Colin Kaepernick should be credited with starting an important conversation on social problems in regard to race. Some people ignore that topic on a daily basis.
     Although it is true Kaepernick has regressed as a football player, he does not deserve to be jobless when some truly terrible quarterbacks, such as Brandon Weeden, are on NFL rosters.
     The punishment Kaepernick received is for social activism and courage to speak out makes him an iconic national figure who should be applauded rather than thrown under the bus.

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