You want to take a knee when the national anthem plays?
You do it.
Your symbolic action is working. And it needs to be followed by much more meaningful action.
I could make a dry, legal argument (no offense to lawyers) that kneeling is constitutional. But that misses the point.
The more important reason why kneeling is appropriate and necessary: The people who are taking a knee are silently, but effectively, delivering a powerful message that requires our attention.
And, oh yes, it’s getting the job done.
Remember, there remain large pockets of the country where nasty, angry messages are sent to anyone who refuses to stand when the national anthem plays. (The basic theme is “get out of my country.” Whether the message is written or said that politely depends on the person delivering it.) The kneelers — and they’re mostly public figures, especially athletes — are getting under the skin of the people who respond with such hate.
Might that be because those who hate know that those who kneel are right?
They’re most definitely right. The decades upon decades of systemic inequality — economic, social and political — remain in place; no single piece of legislation can erase the problem. Rather, it will take forward-thinking people — inside and outside government — to identify policies and programs that slowly, but steadily, erode racism.
The Chinese proverb that a journey of many miles starts with a single step applies in this instance. And each time an athlete or someone else takes a knee, they’re reminding every American, of every race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation and more, that much more work needs to be done.
You don’t like the message? Sorry, but too bad. It’s the right one.