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Kneeling & The National Anthem

Howell Hurst Constitutional Issue, People, Racism


Kneeling & The National Anthem

Lately, in a tire store, I overheard a very loud discussion by a couple of white men about black athletes kneeling, rather than standing with hands on heart and singing when our national anthem plays.

The substance of their heated talk was that since these black athletes earn millions of dollars, but disrespect our country, they are out of place. I remarked, the two men might remember that democracy allows for very diverse points of view.

“Yes,” they agreed, “but not at a sporting event. That’s the wrong venue.” It amused me at the time that the two men so sprightly bandied about the word “venue” instead of using the more common term “place.”

I didn’t mention this, though. It was off the point. Which is also the case of the whites’ protest that the “venue” was wrong. Whites hearing why the black athletes are kneeling is what constitutes the pertinent issue here.

One hundred fifty-three years after slavery is time enough for black Americans to now select their own “venue” to demand equal treatment. Sporting events are chosen because appropriate law court “venues” have not worked.

It may be argued that the sporting “venue’s” inappropriateness is necessary to insure black athletes’ message is heard by all Americans. It may also be argued that the white men’s assertion this is not the right venue is itself disrespectful of the black men’s rights.

Normal pathways to respect and equal treatment for blacks have proven unproductive in America. We all know that neither our social rules nor laws deliver black Americans equal rights and treatment.

The point the white men miss here is that what they think is appropriate behavior is not what black men and women think is appropriate behavior. And black people have the equal legal right to make their point as they wish – so long as they do not break the law.

As far as I know, it is not unconstitutional to kneel during athletic events to protest unequal treatment for minorities. After all, Olympic athletic contests are used as political tools by every country. Have been for years.

Black athletes are only following precedent. The white men’s argument is weak. It is in and of itself biased. I stand with the white men in their right to express their opinion about the issue.

But, I kneel with the black men in their right to press their point as they feel necessary. It is high time white Americans stop arrogantly making assertions about where and when black men may protest their treatment.


As demographics indicate, America will soon no longer be predominantly white. And when it is mostly beige, brown, black, red, and various Asian shades, any white men still dictating what is right and wrong, will find themselves in delicate circumstances.

It would be wise for them now to exercise a bit more common sense in this matter, and wash their ears out. Instead of criticizing blacks athletes about where they are kneeling, these white men might ask them exactly what they are protesting about.

And then: listen closely to what they say.

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