The ‘Taking a Knee’ Phenomenon Shows Celebrities have extraordinary power to influence public protest against injustice.
The wide spread effectiveness of the ‘Taking the Knee’ phenomenon is proof that celebrities have extraordinary power to influence public action in protest of social injustice
(This would seem to imply, by the way, that a celebrity’s power to influence brings a higher level of citizen responsibility to speak out – yet so few do.)
One sports celebrity’s protest against murderous racist injustice in America was copied and spread effectively around the world. It helped galvanize public protest against police homicide of African-Americans in the United States and sparked protest and public opinion against racism in other countries as well.
‘Taking the knee’ (or ‘taking a knee’) has become a symbolic gesture against racism whereby an person kneels upon one knee in place of standing to attention for the playing of a national anthem or other such occasion. It was originated by American football player Colin Kaepernick on September 1, 2016, in protest against the lack of attention given to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality in the United States.
Kaepernick had reached celebrity status for having led his team, the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 season and to the National Football Conference championship game the following season, becoming one of the National Football League’s most exciting young stars.
Kaepernick’s protest led to a wide series of national anthem protests. It has been adopted by sports players in countries across the world, including soccer matches in the United Kingdom, in solidarity with Kaepernick’s protest against racism, and has been seen worldwide in non-sporting contexts such as the Black Lives Matter protests.
Kaepernick’s gesture was first noticed before a game, on Aug. 26. After that game, he addressed his protest to members of the media for the first time, saying:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
“We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture.”
Colin Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid, who joined him in the kneel explained their reasoning in a New York Times published letter.
After hours of careful consideration, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, … during the anthem, as a peaceful protest,” said Reid. “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy“.
Being called a “son of a bitch” for kneeling provoked more kneeling.
During the 2016 season, a few other players also took the knee before matches,  but taking a knee became really popular after then-President Trump criticised the gesture the following year interpreting it as a protest against the United States national anthem and flag, and urging NFL team owners to sack “son of a bitch” players who performed it. Over a hundred NFL players began to take the knee in the weeks following, leading to athletes from other sports taking up the protest, with even spectators now taking part.
Britain’s and Chile’s women’s football teams began the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games by taking the knee, and taking the knee became so popular among many athletes that the Olympic Committee decided to allow it.
Taking the knee has spread across the sporting world as a statement against racism.
But it all began as a reaction to the many police murders of African-Americans in the United States openly seen as racist crimes and of course especially the highly protested ugly murder of George Floyd.
‘Taking the Knee’ or ‘Taking a Knee’ protests could be broadened in intention to include the infamously greater racist homicide in other peoples countries both ongoing and in the past by the military of USA and its allies.
The homicide in genocidal proportions by the US military long ongoing in Middle Eastern and African countries, and in the past in so many nations in Asia and Latin America, tend not to be thought of as racist, but neither were the police murders of African Americans considered racist until it became so prevalent and unbearable as to provoke street protests and eventually the ‘Taking the Knee’ phenomenon.
Racism is indicated by the 20 years of a US led coalition that included every single Caucasian nation in the world  bringing death to hundreds of thousands of Afghani men, women and children in Afghanistan (even though the 9/11 suicide attackers were from Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden had been welcomed into Afghanistan by the CIA).
A considerable number of American soldiers were made to feel ‘gung-ho’ about killing Iraqis in Iraq as ‘pay back’ for the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (which no Iraqi took par). Since 9/11, the US regime change wars in Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen have led to equating killing any or all Arabs with 9/11 revenge in the back of the minds of more than a few US soldiers
Can anyone forget US soldiers calling Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians fighting US invasions of their countries ‘gooks.’ This aged author growing up in racist White Anglo-Saxon dominated America, remembers well regularly hearing insults like ‘nigger,’ ‘kike,’ ‘wap,’ ‘spick,’ ‘pollock,’ so why wouldn’t anyone knowledgeable about the USA expect that America’s wars within Asian, African and Latin American non-white-skinned populations to be racist just as even the treatment of Native Americans at home was racist.
The element of racism is and has been strong not only within the United States of America, but even more so in America’s continuing undeclared wars in countries of the Third World. These bombings, invasions (and sanctions) have taken the lives of many millions of innocent men, women and children. Just consider! Millions of adorable children of different hues of skin color killed in their own beloved countries, as often as not in or near their very own homes. In racist US regime change wars!
An official apology, like that of the American general, who sent condolences to the families of the seven children recently slaughtered in Kabul in a drone strike making the news is a rarity, and none of the military involved were demoted.
Shall we now not expect a celebrity to speak out in opposition to America and NATO racist genocidal permanent war in the Third World, and hopefully generate some general public reaction as Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Taking the Knee’ did? The racist element in these many wars should by now be very apparent.
Though Kaepernick’s career seems to have been derailed, the celebrity begun ‘Taking the Knee’ has pretty much weathered the storm of accusations of it being ‘unpatriotic.’ Sports magazines report that Premier League football players from all 20 clubs will continue to take a knee during the upcoming 2021-22 season to highlight their opposition to racism. Players and staff have been ‘taking a knee’ prior to kick-off in games since June 2020 to show their support for the movement for racial equality.
Has not the American and European public conscience improved since the genocide of the Korean and Vietnam undeclared wars?
Perhaps not, if we consider the UN unsupported invasion and destruction of Iraq on top of the destruction and death in Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. But now Americans have come to some suffering economically for the trillions of dollars wastefully and criminally spent killing overseas.
In 1967, Martin Luther King condemning US wars, was vilified in media, shunned by his civil rights colleagues, friends and unsupported by his church before being murdered by government agencies.
One year before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. assured us that progress in issues of racism and poverty could not be made while so much human and financial resources were being used to kill the poor overseas. King also quoted from the Italian poet Dante’s “L’Inferno,’ that “the hottest fires in Hell are reserved for those, who in times of moral crisis, maintain neutrality.”
Awaiting Celebrities to Speak Out Against Racist Wars
Since the knelling instead of standing for your country’s national anthem, whether if be the anthem of the US, British, French, German or any other nation of the racist war participating National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is already happening, people even often ‘Taking the Knee’ in demonstrations against racism by government against its own citizens, let’s hope to see some celebrities speaking out against US-NATO’s many undeclared racist wars both present and past preferably while kneeling on one knee.
If racist homicide of one’s own fellow citizens has become intolerable, racist genocide of another country’s citizens must be equally abhorrent and intolerable.
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- “Black Lives Matter: Where does ‘taking a knee’ come from?”. BBC News. June 18, 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.; “What’s taking the knee and why was it an issue at Euro 2020?”. July 13, 2021 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
2.A timeline of Colin Kaepernick’s protests against police brutality, four years after they began By Cindy Boren, 8/26/2020, Washington Post,
3. Reid, Eric (September 25, 2017). “Opinion | Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knee”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on September 26, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2021
4. Garber, Megan (September 24, 2017). “They Took a Knee”. The Atlantic. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
5. Tuesday, January 22, 2019
King Damned US Wars Was Vilified in Media Shunned by Friends & Church & Murdered by Gov. Agencies Martin Luther King deserves being the only American whose birthday is celebrated with a three day holiday, but not only as the successful US civil rights movement’s leader, but even more for having been martyred confronting the American killing machine at its source, investors in military atrocities, covert violence and predatory finance. OpEdNews;
January 20, 2020 by jay janson
Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents in 67 countries; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India, Sweden and the US; now resides in NYC; Global Research; Information Clearing House; Counter Currents, Kerala, India; Minority Perspective, UK; Einartysken, Sweden: Saker Vineyard, Germany; Dissident Voice; Greanville Post; Voice of Detroit; OpEdNews have published his articles, Is coordinator of the Howard Zinn co-founded King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign: (King Condemned US Wars) http://kingcondemneduswars.blogspot.com/ and website historian of the Ramsey Clark co-founded Prosecute US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign http://prosecuteuscrimesagainsthumanitynow.blogspot.com/featuring a country by country history of US crimes and laws pertaining.