Why Do the Football Players Take a Knee?

On our way to school this morning my six-year-old asked me about taking a knee during the national anthem. Like all of our other conversation about SJ and E, it was amazing! This is the first I have chosen to share, because they are always very personal and I do not want anyone to think that I believe I have the right answers. However, this particular conversation was is one I feel people need to think about long and hard.

Like every other SJ and E topic this was complex. We recently had a conversation about Black Lives Matter so there was a place to start. This conversation began with a review of true heroism as an act of selflessness for the greater good in the works of many police officers, fire fighters, and individuals like Martin Luther King Jr. Princess Anna, and some others I mention below.

That morning I branched off a little bit. “A football player named Colin Kaepernick took a knee to tell people he was angry because police were killing young black men.  It’s like the people who protest for Black Lives Matter.”

She responded, “why would taking a knee tell people he was angry?”

“Well, it is different from what all of the other football players are doing.  People see he’s doing something different and they ask him, ‘why didn’t you stand.’  Then he can tell them he is taking a knee because he’s angry.  He’s like all those Disney characters and other characters in the books we read who will no longer do what everyone else is doing because they know it’s not ok.”  

“Like, Sylvia Mendez, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ruby Bridges, and…um…Moana…and Mulan?”

“Yes,” I replied.  “Other people may have felt the same way any of those people felt, but because they had access to the opportunity to speak up and just a little more power than most they were heard. We too have the power to influence.”

I recognize, and I tried to help her recognize that Kaepernick is no MLK, RBG, or Ruby Bridges, but he is a person who recognizes his power and had the courage to use the power to try and make a change; something most of us can do, albeit it on a much smaller scale. I don’t have all the answers, but I know my child is not the only six-year-old who has questions. #OurKidsAreListening