The controversy over #TakeAKnee has reached a fever pitch since President Donald Trump began tweeting about it last weekend, ahead of the NFL's opening on Sunday, September 24. #TakeAKneel began as a protest movement by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He began kneeling during the national anthem because, in his words, "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."
Kaepernick is not on the football field this season — his contract with the 49ers was not renewed and he has not been signed to another team. But there is a whole league of football teams who are stepping up — by kneeling down — in order to continue his message. On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys locked arms and took a knee before the "Star-Spangled Banner," along with the team's owner Jerry Jones.
Deadspin questions whether the Cowboys' knee is simply another branding opportunity, or whether it dilutes Kaepernick's original intent. We're not so sure.
It's important to understand that Texas, the home of the Cowboys, is a traditionally Republican state that awarded their electoral votes to Donald Trump; the state's voters voted for him over Hillary Clinton by an almost 9-point margin. It is not an "elite liberal" coastal state — it's a red state with a few spots of blue. And yet we saw the Cowboys stand together against police brutality, and stand in support of Kaepernick's message that Black lives do matter. It's a testament to the fact that our country is not as divided as Trump would suggest — if it could happen in Texas, it can happen anywhere.
There is irony in Trump's tweets and offensive statements (he referred to Kaepernick and other players who've knelt during the national anthem as "sons of a bitch," which is also grossly misogynistic). The irony is that by condemning the peaceful protest, Trump has actually inspired others to follow suit. Star Trek: Discovery and The X-Files both posted photos of the cast taking a knee, the Washington Redskins held hands and kneeled, and the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to remain in their locker room during the national anthem.
Whatever the stance, or the outcome, this peaceful movement has started a lot of important conversations.
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