On Tuesday Nov. 15 some members of the Covenant College men’s basketball team will be kneeling during the national anthem before a game against Emory University. Those who are not kneeling will, in an act of unity, lay hands upon those who are.
The issue of kneeling or standing during the anthem is, at this point, old news. Likely you are annoyed with this conversation, and there is a real sense of disenchantment with the ideas that have been thrust into the public spotlight by Colin Kaepernick and his acts of protest in the National Football League.
Before you throw this article away in disgust give me a moment to explain my personal convictions that are operating in my decision to take a knee during the anthem. My hope is not to convince you to join me down on a knee, instead I want to encourage you to empathize with the reasons that make this a necessary act.
The final line of the Star Spangled Banner is troubling for me as a Christian who is committed to the command in Mark 12 to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The song ends in a climactic crescendo that makes my patriotic inner-eagle soar and screech. Cymbals are clanging, and the singer is reaching for the highest notes in their arsenal.
The words they say; however, aren’t the reality for all of the citizens in this country. “The land of the free and the home of the brave,” is an idea that I am completely behind, I understand that concept and desire it to be lived out to its full realization. The question becomes this, is that the observed reality in the United States?
This is the heartbreaking reality, I have black brothers and sisters in Christ who have been disenfranchised by a system that was not designed by them, and therefore not designed for them. They feel no less that this country is the, “home of the brave,” than you do. They suffered nearly two and a half centuries of slavery and have fought inequality for the duration of this country’s existence, you can be no more brave than that. They have siblings, parents, and relatives of all sorts that have gone into the military to fight for the liberty that the stars and stripes stand for.
It is the home of the brave indeed. But it is a highly questionable notion that the “land of the free,” is a concept that is equally accessible for all people, regardless of color.
It is for this unfortunate reality that I am going to be taking a knee during the course of this season. I will kneel, inheriting the pose of protest that has been set before me, and I will do so in hopes of continuing the dialogue that I have found so beneficial in the wake of Kaepernick’s actions. I don’t do it out of a place that disrespects this nation’s armed forces, because I don’t do it out of a place that is ungrateful for the freedoms I have been afforded. I am kneeling because there is great injustice in our country perpetrated against people that I care about dearly. For that I am willing to challenge the status quo and not accept this racial divide as a necessary state of existence. We can do better. We all can do better.
I kneel for now, because for now I know no better way to voice my concern for this inequality. If there was a more apparent way presented to me I would be doing it, but do not assume that this is the furthest extent I am willing to go in order to stand beside my brothers and sisters.
My intent is not to offend you. That may be a by-product of my actions this year, though I hope not. I love this country, and have great respect for those that have fought in order to give me an opportunity to live this blessed life. That is precisely why I need to take a knee, in order to protest the barrier that has been presented to African-Americans that are in pursuit of the liberties that I take for granted as a member of the majority.
I don’t apologize, but these are my kneeling apologetics.