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By Lizzy Stocks

Football – the last event at which Americans expect to be confronted by racism.

Yet in 2016, Beyoncé paid tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement during a Super Bowl halftime performance, and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in silent protest of police brutality and systemic racism.

Both of these actions sparked national outrage, yet Kaepernick received widespread backlash as many perceived that his actions were protesting the national anthem, the American Lag and the military.

Events this past weekend caused similar outrage as NFL players and teams began kneeling in response to President Trump’s tweets denouncing athletes who “disrespect our Great American Flag” by kneeling during the anthem.

For many, football is an escape from the realities of a 9-to-5 job – a time of blissful relaxation on the recliner, more likely than not with a cold beer in hand. So why incorporate politics into America’s favorite pastime?

Why silently protest during the “Star-Spangled Banner,” a moment to show appreciation and respect for our beloved homeland?

Because racism and injustice are prevalent in our country and America’s wake-up call is long overdue. Drawing attention to a Lawed justice system is not disapproval of the country, but disapproval of those who choose to ignore those flaws.

Taking a knee during the national anthem is a metaphor – not a protest of the American Lag or the soldiers who risk their lives to protect American freedoms – but a signal that our country is injured by the injustices surrounding and affecting people of color.

Performers and athletes are taking advantage of their audience – fans crowding the stadium and families crowding their sofas – and it’s about time they did so.

Although many believe using one’s job in entertainment as leverage to advocate and protest is immoral, there is no better platform to peacefully protest the injustices of our country.

With millions of viewers watching in real time or streaming live from the internet, celebrities have the power to reach and influence audiences like never before.

Rather than boycotting America’s favorite pastime, take a moment to reflect on why athletes and coaches are using their platform to silently protest before our eyes.

We live in a time where the president uses Twitter to misinform the public with divisive statements that redirect important conversations to controversial arguments.

Choosing not to stand for the national anthem is a constitutional right. Peaceful and silent protest is a constitutional right.

Obstructing the freedoms of another American citizen is not a constitutional right.

Do not let the president fool you into believing the “take a knee” message is anything but patriotic. True devotion to our country is choosing to acknowledge injustice and advocate for those whose voices and actions go unnoticed.

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