By Breana Staten, Contributing Writer
“You get a quota for what you’re allowed to say,” said senior Isaac Moore regarding the capacity in which Asbury University minorities can speak on the topic of race. Moore, an African-American student who writes articles in the Collegian and participates in panels that answer race-related questions, is now choosing to use his platform as a basketball player to participate in the take a knee protest. As a writer who happens to be a black woman, I am going to use a portion of “my quota” to write about the take a knee protest, particularly in regard to the intentionality of kneeling.
Many consider the take a knee protest to be disrespectful as it “symbolizes so much more than the stance they are taking,” freshman Taylor Godsey said. “I agree that there is racial injustice but coming from a military family, that flag represents millions of families that have had that flag handed back to them folded up at a funeral because their loved one died protecting our rights.”
The choice to kneel stems from their respect for the flag and all that it stands for, while also attempting to respectfully and peacefully demonstrate that America also needs to take a step back and consider a situation—police brutality and the systemic inequalities that minorities face in America. Ultimately, choosing to kneel is deliberate, as kneeling has always been a respectful and reflective gesture.
According to journalist Thomas E. Ricks, who specializes in U.S. Military and homeland security, “‘taking a knee’ is a military tradition, especially in the Army. I’ve heard it used most often as a way of pausing, taking a breather and stepping back to consider the situation.”
Furthermore, “research into emotion and nonverbal communication suggests that there is nothing threatening about kneeling. Instead, kneeling is almost always deployed as a sign of deference and respect…. we kneel to beg,” according to “The Psychology of Taking a Knee,” an article published in the Scientific American.
Additionally, kneeling is a significant part of the Christian tradition and in an article entitled “What Taking a Knee Really Means,” the author observed that during his church’s worship services people choose to worship in various ways including standing and kneeling.
Therefore, he concludes, “Is one method of worship any better than another? Of course not. Are the NFL players who take a knee or remain sitting during the singing of the national anthem any less patriotic than those who remain standing?…As far as I can tell, they are all patriotic Americans merely expressing their conscientious beliefs in different ways.”
Due to the context and background of kneeling, in this situation taking a knee is the most peaceful way to protest. Unfortunately, the framework of the take a knee protest, usually involving the flag or national anthem, has resulted in extreme divisiveness. Accordingly, people show more concern for the act of kneeling, instead of why people choose to kneel.
Ultimately, this allows people to easily dismiss or ignore the validity of that person’s viewpoint, thus causing me to doubt the effectiveness of this method of protest. While this protest does give a voice to the issue, those who protest also lose their voice at the same time. And without a voice, nothing can be heard, resulting in a lack of change.
In regard to the take a knee protest, Maria Brown, Asbury’s coordinator for Intercultural Affairs, said, “People lose their voice while trying to get one.”
And honestly, I would rather have a quota than no voice at all.
Photo by Robin Gericke