If you follow the efforts to end the institutionalised racism present in US society, you’ll be well aware of Colin Kaepernick and the campaign he started by taking a knee to take a stand. The objective was to use his position of privilege in a peaceful manner, as a protest at black people dying at the hands of police. His actions were soon copied by other NFL stars and the movement spread to other sports. It was a non-violent yet very public way of getting attention for an important cause, yet thanks to some skewed ideas around patriotism, Kaepernick and his fellow kneelers drew heavy criticism from certain quarters (Trump and Pence, to name a couple of culprits).
Now, the NFL has revealed itself to be a tool of the current political establishment, issuing directives that tell players they cannot kneel or otherwise take any action during the national anthem, otherwise they and their club can face fines. In other words, respecting the flag and anthem is judged more important than raising awareness of the ongoing failures of US police forces (and other institutions) in respect of race. Not only that, it’s an enforcement of a policy that actually contravenes the First Amendment (which concerns freedom of expression).
It’s far from the case that every American shares the NFL’s bleak approach to this situation, but if you are American and reading this, ask yourself a few questions – are you upset that black Americans are kneeling during the anthem? Does this upset you more than the disproportionate response of law enforcement when dealing with black Americans? If so, why? Does it upset you that these athletes are using their fame to draw much-needed attention to this cause? If so, why? Does it upset you that their First Amendment rights are being squashed? If not, why?