The Californian

Students kneel as a form of protest

Illustration by Isha Pandya

Illustration by Isha Pandya

Anne Syed, Staff Writer

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Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s form of protest has inspired various high school students in the Bay Area to follow his lead and express their own beliefs.

At the beginning of August 2016, Kaepernick made the decision to kneel during the National Anthem to fight against injustice and police brutality. 

Students at Cal High have been debating whether it is right or wrong to ‘take a knee’ since Kaepernick made his bold move, a controversial protest that has been rekindled this year now that President Trump has spoken out against players who participate in it and the NFL for allowing it.

“I don’t believe it’s right or wrong, to each his own, but don’t get mad at him,” said junior Justin Sherrod. “Respect [his actions] because he publicized such a big issue.”

When Kaepernick decided to take a knee, he also decided to endure the consequences that followed it. Currently jobless and still fighting for his cause, Kaepernick serves as an inspiration to some students.  

“He’s standing up for his own beliefs and everyone should be allowed to stand up for your own rights,” said sophomore Macy Hoeke.  

The fight against police brutality and racial injustice has been prevalent throughout the last several years.

Statistics show that in 2015, 30 percent of the black victims were unarmed. According to Mapping Police Violence, 242 black people have been killed by the police this year.

 Many students at Cal have encouraged Kaepernick’s decision and believe his act was justified for various reasons as the debate deepens.

“I think that it’s a really good way to spread a voice for racism and political injustice,” said junior Anaika Sahota. “This way, he protested peacefully and brought attention to the issue since he had such a huge platform that was nationally broadcast.” 

Many Bay Area youth are expressing their concerns and are taking action at schools such as Bellarmine College Preparatory (San Jose), Encinal High School (Alameda) and the Honor Band (Oakland Unified School District).

On Sept. 25, Encinal’s senior ASB president Mary Malkic lead a protest to show solidarity with Kaepernick. The students were invited to sit, kneel, or stand during the National Anthem.

“The protest wasn’t intended on trying to convince people to agree with my public opinion but rather a way to let the student body at Encinal know that in my mind, they have the right to express what they believe in,” said Malkic. 

She emphasized the importance of having the voices of students heard and that teenagers’ opinions are still valid in this country, especially during a harsh time like this. 

“I wanted the protest to be one that unified the school…, letting everyone know they and their opinions are respected,” said Malkic. 

The football players at Bellarmine also agree with this stance.

They took a knee on Sept. 29 to stand against the injustices done within the country. Unlike many administrations nationwide, the Bellarmine administration was supportive of the students’ decision. 

Similarly, Oakland’s Honor Band has kneeled twice within the past year. Before an Oakland A’s game on Sept. 25, the students kneeled during the anthem to express their concerns for the individuals of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA), believing that every human has the right to have access to education. 

As the political beliefs of students are beginning to tie more into their school life, many school administrations have warned their athletes of  “taking a knee” during their games. The tensions are rising nationwide as two football players from Victory and Praise Christian Academy in Texas were thrown off their team for kneeling before a game. 

Many schools’ administrations would rather not have their students’ political views tied within their teams. 

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association has decided that administration is allowed to make decisions regarding student choices to participate in the National Anthem. 

At Wayland High School in Louisiana, administration  requires students to stand during the anthem and failure to comply will result in removal from the team.

Some students agree that if Cal students were to start taking a knee, they would be against it because these students don’t have a big platform like Kaepernick to support the cause. 

Many students believe that he was being highly disrespectful toward the National Anthem.

“I think that it is disrespectful,” said junior Aidan Otero. “I understand that there are problems, but if they really want to contribute to it I think they should do other things directly like going to fundraisers. ”

The political leaders of our country are agitated toward kneeling as well. Trump told his supporters at a Sept. 22 rally in Alabama that any player who kneels during the anthem “should be fired” and that they are “sons of b*****s.” 

Vice President Mike Pence left a home Indianapolis Colts game against the 49ers on Oct. 8 immediately after some players kneeled during the National Anthem because he believed that it disrespected our soldiers. 

As more protests arise day by day,  America is moving towards an active youth who are not afraid to have their voices heard. 

“We as teenagers still know what is going on in our country and our opinions are as valid as every other American’s,” said Malkic.

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Students kneel as a form of protest