Image: Dominic Royster-Wright
When it comes to the protest of the National Anthem, athletes are beginning to take a knee for it. This protest was pioneered by former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. He pioneered this movement in order to protest the racial injustices that are currently going on in America. Of course, some people are taking this way out of hand and saying that he hates the American flag. One thing that I want to know is, will it be acceptable for an athlete at Green Mountain College to do so?
My answer is simple and easy: yes! Why wouldn’t it be? The only difference between us and these professional athletes is a paycheck, a huge platform, and a large fan base. Being that we don’t have those things, why does that mean we must stay quiet about the situations that impact us? Yes, we may not be in the NFL or the NBA, but we play college athletics and we have a voice worth hearing. Although our platform isn’t nearly as large as a player in the NFL or NBA, we can still protest. If you are a person of color playing a sport for this school, then you are currently under a microscope.
When I say that last statement, I mean that people at this school, as well as the athletic conference, look at us as if we are different. Ever since my freshman year, I realized this through my own interpretations and the things that I would hear at basketball games regarding our players. For example, our basketball players would get labelled as hoodlums and thugs. Even at away games, myself and others would hear players on the basketball team be called racial slurs.
Two years ago, there was an altercation between players on our team and players from one of the Maine schools who are in our conference. When the player from our school reacted to another player from the opposing team doing a dirty, injury type of play, we were in the wrong. This of course issued the next home game to have a cop stand in the doorway. Mind you this is a college game where no fights have occurred or where anybody’s life was in danger.
This is only one sport. I play lacrosse and often, I get referred to as the “black lacrosse player”. This could be completely harmless but nonetheless, it’s annoying. Racism comes in numerous forms on the field as well. There have been a lot of cases where I have had to get into verbal arguments with not only players, but fans as well. Mainly on the trips we take to Maine. I would get racial slurs directed towards me during the game by some players. I would get called things like “nigger” and a few times I had monkey noises directed towards me.
I strongly believe that if you are a person of color, as well as an athlete on this campus, you receive a lot of racial slurs in this conference. Our National Anthem is something people want us to stand for, but when things hit the fan and make us feel incredibly uncomfortable as if our skin color is a threat, who is going to stand for us? The National Anthem says “land of the free”, but if we are so free, how come we don’t feel free?
If I feel as if I want to take a knee during the National Anthem, I for sure will. Either a knee will be on the ground or my black fist will be raised. You see, just because I’m a college athlete at a Division 3 school, does not mean my voice and my protest won’t be heard. Of course, we don’t get the same type of coverage as a Division 1 school or a professional team, but nonetheless we are still people. Like the NFL and NBA players, Donald Trump’s presidency angers us as well as the current state our country is in.
This country is not a fan of black people and a blind man can see that. We aren’t getting called “niggers” as much as we used to back in the day, but they try to silence us. Silence us in the sense that, they try to override our movements. Example being: when we shout “Black Lives Matter”, people who are against would begin to say “All Lives Matter”.
Recently, our joke of a president, Donald Trump, is the perfect example of a person who attempts to continue silencing those who are oppressed. Trump, who is our president, went on Twitter and said, “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY”. This is ridiculous to me, mainly because players are PEACEFULLY protesting the Anthem by taking a knee. This country should understand that people of color are being killed by people whose jobs are to serve and protect. We even see the dehumanizing that people of color face daily, not only through the media, but on this college campuses daily. They want us to stand for the Anthem? Well, I want them to stop dehumanizing us and killing us for trophies under their belt.
So, when lacrosse season comes, I will be taking a knee or having my black fist raised in the air. If I get told that I can’t protest the National Anthem by anybody, then I will still do it. I’d rather stand for what I believe in, than stand for an anthem that doesn’t hold truth for me and my people.