“If you want to capture someone’s attention—whisper.” This commercial from a few years ago reminds me of what’s happening with the NFL. In order to attract attention to the mistreatment of people of color by police, certain NFL players have taken a knee during the National anthem. Before you scream at me about patriotism let me tell you, I’m the one who cries when the color guard marches in with the flag. I’m the one who sings loudest when they play the national anthem and recite with pride the pledge of allegiance. My son, father, father-in-law and assorted cousins and uncles have all served in the military. I am proud to be an American.
As a student of history, I’m aware of the blots of shame on our image. Being a patriot doesn’t mean I’m unaware of the flaws in our character. Anyone who has heard the story of “The Trail of Tears,” knows it was greed that pushed the Cherokee from their lands and onto reservations. A people with their own schools, newspaper, farms and even slaves, because they were a people of color, they could be stripped of their rights and regulated to government controlled lands. Is that too far back for you to be concerned? How about World War Two? When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Japanese American’s lost homes, businesses and even their health as the government shoved them into concentration camps. Unlike the German and Italian immigrants who could change their names and pass for American, the Japanese weren’t that lucky. Still too historical? Think about this, if you are black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern or Native American you are automatically profiled by authorities and store owners. They expect you to do something wrong and treat you accordingly.
I’m not a huge football fan, so if the games play or not will not affect me. As an American, I am thankful for a Constitution and Bill of Rights that allows us our freedom of speech. Not to take away from our service men and women who have sacrificed for this freedom, I have to ask, if we take away the football players’ right to protest are we not damaging the principles America was built on? As important as the flag is, and as patriotic it is to stand for the national anthem, if I want to get your attention, what better choice could I make? By taking a knee, the players have brought this issue into the main stream American home. For people with darker skin, America doesn’t offer the same opportunities and protections. It is time to make our America, the America for all people. I love this country. I’m proud of this flag, but I also see room for improvement.
If you want to get someone’s attention—whisper, or go down on your knee during the national anthem.
Sherri Lupton Hollister
Southern Romantic Comedy & Suspense