The Art of the Protest

By: William VanOrder

Kneeling during the national anthem is the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2016; people all across the country feel as though they are part of something bigger than themselves through their action/inaction (I’m looking at you Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe), and it has gained national coverage by every major news outlet. This time instead of raising funds to help with research and charity, not honoring the national anthem has become a social movement. And unfortunately, this movement is one with many heads, and not all of them peaceful…

If you have logged onto any form of social medial in the past few weeks, then you have probably seen or heard of Colin Kaepernick and his actions during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who is the current quarterback of the San Fransisco 49ers, has been given the majority of the credit for starting this craze of kneeling during the anthem, stating he could not be proud of a country where there were such harsh social injustices. While I do not have the same views as he does about what our Anthem represents, I can appreciate something about Kaepernick’s efforts: he is doing a lot more than just kneeling. Off the field, Kaepernick has pledged to donate $1 million over the next ten months to charities of varying origins. For that reason, I applaud him.

Kaepernick’s actions have inevitably led to him becoming one of the most polarizing public figures in 2016, which is impressive, given the elections this year. Conservatives are losing their minds over the idea of such disrespect as to kneel during the anthem, while empathizers have popped up all over the country. Superstars such as the likes of Megan Rapinoe have joined in on the kneel, in the hopes of sparking the conversation about the injustices happening to minority demographics. The more publicly acclaimed athletes join the movement, the more up rise and uproar the movement will produce, and not all of this attention will be peaceful or pleasant. However, superstar athletes are not the only ones making headlines in their protests. The people in Charlotte, North Carolina are breaking news for their violent protests.

In an attempt to bring attention to a policeman shooting and killing of an African-American man, citizens of Charlotte have caused enough chaos to force Governor Pat McCrory to call a state of emergency. The riots began on Wednesday of last week, and when they continued on Thursday a man was shot by a fellow protestor. The origin of these riots is found in a disagreement of statements over the situation that led to the death of Keith Lamont Scott. Family members of Scott claim he was sitting in his car reading in a book, while the official police report claims he was armed and no book was found on the scene.

To the people taking knees: if you are going to protest, then work towards changing what you are protesting. Addressing what you believe is an important issue is the first step, but you cannot stop there and expect the problem to resolve itself. An increased community involvement and personal interaction with local officials is how you incite change. Regardless of my ability (or lack thereof) to empathize with Kaepernick’s protesting, I appreciate his peacefulness about the situation. Sure, he might be an overrated quarterback, but he has found a way to send his message peacefully and has chosen to back his words with impactful action. My only remaining hope is that as the symbol of this movement, he can help protestors like those in Charlotte to cease the violence.

I don’t know who is to blame and who should be held responsible for the shooting that took place last week; there are a lot of witnesses and reports giving different stories. But what I firmly believe is that we need to find a better medium to communicate our frustrations, because when a protestor is shot by a fellow protestor and left in critical condition, nobody is winning.

Author: nmsuroundup

The student voice of New Mexico State University since 1907.

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