Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner.
These are five of the many reasons I have been taking a knee during the national anthem for the past two seasons I’ve been playing soccer here at Augsburg. Anyone who keeps up with national news and sports knows that NFL players have been taking a stand against racial injustices, police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem. What started off as Colin Kaepernick kneeling before a preseason game has spread wide across the nation.
Other professional players, high school athletes and collegiate athletes have started taking a knee to protest these same injustices. Despite the many arguments attempting to denounce the intentions of these peaceful demonstrations, activists and athletes have continued to take a stand with large support from many organizations. I am proud to be a lead organizer and designer of one organization in particular that is looking to take this protest to the next level.
Take A Knee Nation (TAKN) is a grassroots organization whose goal is to bring attention to a few of the major issues these athletes around the nation have been bringing to the public’s attention: police brutality, racism and the right to protest. TAKN was started by longtime activists and students in the Minneapolis, Boston, Cincinnati and St. Louis areas, and it has been largely organized and executed right here in the Twin Cities.
The group has been taking a knee during the National Anthem in front of U.S. Bank Stadium for Vikings games for a large part of the season. Through snow and sub-zero degree Sundays, TAKN has faithfully endured to get this message across. Take a Knee Nation has been spending the season planning for an even bigger movement: a national conference and rally for Super Bowl weekend.
This conference is being organized for 1. Families of victims who have been affected by police brutality, student-athletes who have taken a knee and activists to come together as a community to talk through these issues; 2. Workshops designed to give a deeper analysis of race, police violence and class as it relates to our rights to protest; 3. An opportunity for others to help build a national grassroots organization to keep pressure on the administration to create change and to continue the effort to end the police violence happening around the country.
If you’re a budding activist like myself, you have probably thought about what you would do if you were alive during the Civil Rights movement. Well, this is our modern-day Civil Rights era. And while we aren’t explicitly denied the rights of our white counterparts, we’re systemically kept out of the poll booths. We aren’t hanging from trees, but we’re being ruthlessly killed by those employed to protect us. And this isn’t just for my fellow black brothers and sisters; this for my white friends and allies. Use your natural-born privilege to help marginalized groups. I call all of you to actively make a difference and stand against the injustices happening in our own backyard. For me, this is being a part of Take A Knee Nation and similar grassroots organizations with the same goals. I urge you to attend the TAKN Conference next weekend and participate in the rally with us on Sunday.
Don’t sit back and wonder what you would do, act right now. For more information and to register for the free conference, visit http://www.takeakneenation.com.
This article first appeared in the Friday, January 26, 2018, Edition of The Echo.