Understand what #TakeAKnee really stands for

by Julie Cappiello , Contributor

There are dark forces haunting America — a shadow of hate has fallen over the country. While it has always been there, it is now darker than ever.

President Donald Trump’s comments in Huntsville, Alabama encouraging coaches to fire NFL players that take a knee during the national anthem, brought to light an issue that is often brushed under the rug.

Many Americans believe #TakeAKnee is about protesting Trump, the troops who selflessly risk their lives for American citizens or even the flag itself.

However, it’s not about any of these things — it is about protesting police brutality and racism.

This movement began last year when Colin Kaepernick ignited a media firestorm after sitting during the national anthem.

Kaepernick justified his actions by saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

It’s ironic that the NFL — which had no problem blacklisting Kaepernick this year — are now all on the bandwagon. Following the comments made by the president, NFL athletes and some owners kneeled in support.

Teams like the New York Jets and the Houston Texans posted pictures of players kneeling or linking arms captioned “Unity.” Sports Illustrated released the cover for their latest issue with prominent athletes pictured who were seen protesting on Sunday — but Kaepernick was excluded.

All of this is to protest racism and police brutality. These are not new issues in America. Clear action has not been taken but instead set aside.

Kaepernick protested the injustice Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr., Tanisha Anderson and Tamir Rice all faced. There are so many more people of color who were victims of police violence. This is exactly what Kaepernick was kneeling for — the justice, the awareness and the change that should follow to stop this violence from continuing.

How can this country call itself a united nation, and only limit that phrase to those who are white? This is what #TakeAKnee is about and what its original intentions were. They should not be co-opted, whitewashed and forgotten.

Some Americans refuse to see what #TakeAKnee actually stands for. It is not about dishonoring the flag or the national anthem. Police brutality and racism are endemic in this country and this conversation has been put off for way too long.