Sometimes, on my better days, I attempt to imagine how it would feel to walk in the shoes of another person — or another race — or another ethnic group. Although I know I can never truly experience the feelings of someone else, I try to get a little closer to understanding.
The first time I saw the players kneeling during the national anthem, I felt a bit put off. After all, these men have become role models for young males. Then, I listened to their reasons. After reflecting, I understood that their intentions were not to disrespect the flag or the nation. I stepped into the shoes of their mothers and grandmothers and tried to imagine how I might feel if I feared for young men I loved. How could I stand to live with the anxiety of wondering if my son or grandsons would come home alive and unharmed? Unimaginable. And, with this small step, I gained a slight insight into the misery other mothers and grandmothers must experience on a daily basis.
No one can claim innocence about the mistreatment of Black Americans. How often, while sitting in the comfort of our homes, have we seen young Black men shot, choked, or manhandled on television? How many of us thought we “fixed” this injustice in the sixties only to be stunned by current realities? And so, we cannot be too surprised when strong young football players want to make a statement. “Wake up, America! Prejudice and meanness still roam our cities and destroy lives.”
Players could have decided to arm themselves and retaliate with murderous rampages. Instead, they chose to drop to their knees as an expression of respect for those killed and to draw attention, once again, to injustice. Until our brothers can live freely, no one can truly be safe. Better for the players to take a knee, a sign of respect than to take a gun. We should be thanking them for raising the consciousness of the nation and the world by protesting peacefully. Yes—better to take a knee than to take a gun. We whites are fortunate, indeed.