Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest continues. This time he has decided to take a knee. I resonate with Kaepernick’s actions and reasons strongly, but my compulsion is rooted in a different place than his own. Even as I affirm and agree with his reasons for protest, I have to acknowledge that my actions are born of theological education. My convictions are about the relationship between Church and State, about the Kingdom and the Empire.
I happen to stand during the singing of the national anthem, but do not remove my hat unless requested by the public address announcer. In no case, do I place my hand over my heart. I feel cowardish, but I paid to watch a ball game not a political rally. I’m a fan in the stands, and I don’t want to endure the anger of drunkards around me. I get nasty looks as it is. I like to think I’d act differently if I were in a position such as Kaepernick.
But what comes to mind as I read about Kaepernick’s recent action is how many times I’ve heard, from the sideline of one of my boys’ soccer games, to “take a knee.” Whenever a player is hurt, both coaches scream to their players to “Take a Knee!” It is a way of showing concern for an injury. It is a simple way to say what is happening to that player is important, and the game should not go on until they are shown to be okay.
I don’t think this is what was in Kaepernick’s mind as he took a knee last night (although it could have been), but I want to suggest that we would do well to view his kneeling as calling attention to the fact that our Body Politic is hurt and that we should actually all stop and attend to it until it shows us it’s okay.
And, in this case, it will only be okay when (in Kaepernick’s own words) the oppression of black people and people of color is a thing of the past.