Patriotism is a strongly held emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland (Wikipedia). Patriotism is a strongly held American sentiment, and can be expressed through celebratory parades, national allegiance, and voting. Conversely, patriotism can be used to justify denying liberties to those deemed unpatriotic or those who demonstrate un-American practices.
The American Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal by their Creator.” This point is furthered in the Constitution which outlines individual’s liberties in the Bill of Rights, among which are freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of speech enables citizens to demonstrate their own beliefs and critique the beliefs of others. This freedom is apparent in the recent public outcry against Colin Kaepernick’s demonstration of kneeling during the National Anthem before each 49ers football game.
The Stand for Liberty Kneel for Patriotism Forum held last Thursday provided a platform for interested students and campus members to express their thoughts on the subjects of patriotism, freedom of speech and race. Three sensitive subjects in their own right, and which are even more provoking when grouped together. One student suggested that since Francis Scott Key was a slave owner, the National Anthem did not apply to black people, implying that Kaepernick was well within his rights to ignore the song. Others found Kaepernick’s actions unpatriotic and disrespectful. While some saw his demonstration as peaceful and “refreshing in light of all of the recent violence.”
There was consensus that Colin was entitled to utilize his right to free speech. Even as a former Super bowl contestant and well-known persona, Kaepernick’s public influence should not confine his ability to voice and demonstrate his concerns. Kaepernick’s fame provides him with an international platform to bring awareness to racial injustice in America.
Within in the last month he has influenced football players and athletes nationwide to take a stance and advocate for equality. But as many people as there are fighting for racial justice, there are just as many Americans who are opposed to equality and the subsequent demonstrations. America has much farther to grow in terms of race relations, and question was posed: How can we bring about change?
Attendees had already demonstrated a concern for racial injustice and learning more, by simply attending the form. It the responsibility of those who understand the current social climate to be advocates for change. Attending the forum was a small step, but utilizing opportunities to learn cannot end with sanctioned discussions. It must continue with the unorganized, uncomfortable, and sporadic discussions with anyone willing to listen. Change starts with those who care, and must continue until the unaware and unconcerned also become advocates for change.
Racial equality is a large undertaking and a long-term goal for America. Some Americans view another’s gain as a personal loss; it is this mentality that perpetuates racial and social divides. A rising tide raises all ships, each American must be given the right to pursue their best life possible, and hopefully soon patriotism and liberty can become synonymous.