Blog by Associate Colette Parker

It is now officially fall – which can mean a lot of things for different people.

By now, I have usually gotten a first look at several NFL teams, including my beloved Chicago Bears.

But, this year, things are different: I have made a conscious decision not to watch the NFL, until Colin Kaepernick is treated fairly.

The 29-year-old quarterback made national headlines during the 2016 NFL season for kneeling during the national anthem, sparking a movement among athletes across the sports spectrum. That movement was reignited this past weekend, when the U.S. Commander in Chief described the act as disrespecting the flag and called for players who kneel during the anthem to be fired.

Kaepernick’s explanation for his action: to support Black Lives Matter and to protest police violence against people of color. “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,” he said in a published report.

And he vowed to continue his nonviolent protest until he feels like “[the American flag] represents what it’s supposed to represent.”

Well, he’s not sending his message from a football field this season (because no team has signed him). Some argue that it’s because of his stats. Others, including me, believe it’s because of his posture against racial injustice and because we don’t want to be reminded that something is terribly wrong in America (including an anthem that celebrates the murder of slaves in its third verse).

I think Kaepernick’s stats speak for themselves – ESPN reports that last season he threw for 2,241 yards in 12 games and had a quarterback rating of 90.7 (and quarterbacks with much less impressive stats are on NFL rosters this year).

But I don’t want to get caught up in that dialogue. Let’s focus on the kneel.

I have a coffee mug with a message that reads: “When Life Gives You More Than You Can Stand, Kneel.”

Could it be that Kaepernick, a black man in America, had experienced all that he could stand, so he kneeled?

One of Kaepernick’s formers teammates, Eric Reid, said in a published report: “What Colin and Eli (Harold) and I did was peaceful protest fueled by faith in God to help make our country a better place. And I feel like I need to regain control of that narrative and not let people say what we’re doing is un-American. Because it’s not. It’s completely American.”

Could it be that Kaepernick, a Christian, is inspired by his faith to kneel?

Could it be that instead of disrespecting the flag, he is showing a deep respect for the God who granted this nation its freedom?

In his own words, Kaepernick said in a newspaper interview: “I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I’m at. When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field.”

Until Kaepernick is allowed to return to the field to glorify God, I will not watch the NFL.

Kaepernick may not be kneeling on the field this days, but others – like the NFL players, coaches and owners across the league on Sunday who sat, kneeled, raised fists, locked arms or stayed inside locker rooms as the anthem was played before games – will continue to make a statement about their commitment to working toward justice for all (including those who some people think do not have a right to peaceful protest).

This isn’t about disrespecting the flag, this is about humbling ourselves, acknowledging America’s racial justice failures, recognizing that we are all created equal, and working to help America live up to its promise of being a nation where freedom, liberty, and justice reign.

And maybe it’s time for one of those owners who took a stand against injustice on Sunday to bring Kaepernick back to the field.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

35 responses to “THE POWER OF KNEELING

  1. Thanks for a wonderful insight. I have responded to newspaper articles who disagree with “the Kneel”. So much about the flag and little about the injustice men are protesting. Of course they don’t speak about those who wrap themselves with the flag and disrespect it as a symbol of bigotry in their marches.

  2. Thank you for this. Did you see the NYT article the other day by one of Kaepernick’s ex-teammates? I will paste the link below. He echoes your sentiments. It is good to educate the public about the importance of these protests. They are in no way un-American, but teach us to stand up for what is right—for all Americans.

    I am also concerned about the brain damage that is an inherent risk of the sport.

    1. Thanks, Christina. I will take a look at the article. I agree that the risk of injury, including brain damage is a concern that needs to be addressed.

  3. Colette, thank you for sharing your outrage over racial and all injustices revealed in the NFL situation.
    Looks like you have sparked a meaningful and needed conversation.
    Loretta Sullivan

  4. I’m with them and you even tho I would never watch a professional football game . Only because they are so boring . Good for all who respectfully demonstrate to remind us of the reasons this country of ours has been blessed . All of us should be respected

  5. Excellent comments, Colette! I appreciate your perspective and wish those who are criticizing these players could read what you have to say. I’m more of an NBA fan myself and love what LeBron had to say recently about all that is going on. God bless America!

  6. Colette–I appreciate your clear, insightful and enlightening comments. The U.S. has a long history of atrocities committed in the name of flag, country, and status quo.
    I pray that many more people will come to share your insights. Thank you.

  7. Colette, that was a very good article. I wish it could go in the/a newspaper. It would give others the chance to see why people make the choices that they do. Thanks for your thoughtful writing.

  8. Well done! Unfortunately, these actions attract a lot of attention, but do nothing to ease the prejudice residing in far too many hearts these days. Unless or until something can be done to turn hatred to love, I fear little will change. After all, God is love, and he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him! (1John 4:16)

  9. Thank you for clearly explaining the happenings in the NFL I’m hearing about. I hope one of the owners hears and responds to your challenge to act justly and bring Kaepernick back where he belongs.

  10. Colette,
    Football is not one of my interests, but justice in America definitely is…Colin knelt for what he believes in; we need to support that kind of heroism, especially when it speaks to truth.
    As Christians we live by signs and symbols … words are one kind of sign…kneeling is another…Let’s stand with those who speak kind word , or kneel , on behalf of peace and justice in America.

  11. Right on, Colette! This is about civil rights and freedom of speech.
    Ps. I’m a Steelers, Bears, Packer fan! AND, had you watched this weekend, you’d have seen many players from every team kneeling or linking arms in solidarity!!!

  12. A good explanation of Kaepernick’s actions—I have seen the headlines I am not a football fan and so I didn’t read the story. Thank you, Colette, for your explanation and passionate defense of his way of supporting what he believes in.

  13. Thanks, Colette, This reflection is “right on”. I need to look at that 3rd verse of the National Anthem about celebrating slavery. Slavery has never gone away now that we are faced with trafficking of people these days. What a mess we are in!!

  14. Thank you, Colette, for inviting us to look beyond the action itself and to reflect on what respect really means, and what our nation is, or should be, a gathering of all people, respecting all and working for the freedom of all

  15. I have so much respect for your boycott Colette. As people of peace, we all need to support the rights of people to peacefully protest. It is perhaps more American than singing the anthem.

  16. Thank you, Colette, for your blog and your witness to truth and respect for another’s integrity. While not a sport fan,
    I recognize that “fasting” from football is a big step for those who love their teams. I have learned from your strong words what it means to “stand” for something and what it means
    to “kneel” in the face of injustice.

  17. Given the number of teams, owners and staff who have discovered the power of kneeling this season, I hope it incites a really smart team to hire Kaepernick. I think they made a huge mistake this year in not picking up his contract. I LOVED your blog, Colette. Thank you.

  18. Colette, I appreciate the insightful thoughts and queries you shared in this blog. They lend credence to the admonition: “Don’t rush to judgment as reality may not be as it initially appears.”

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