Angelica J. Core
I looked around Blake Arena during the National Anthem on December 8. Our men’s basketball team faced Williams College. Spectators were focused on the visitor’s bench.
I followed their stares and I saw Williams senior forward, Kyle Scadlock, kneeling during the National Anthem. One of his teammates stood behind him with his hand on his shoulder.
I had never witnessed someone kneeling. I was shocked and unsure what was going to happen.
Will he start? Will they make a big deal out of Scadlock’s beliefs? Is there someone in the stands who is angered enough to lash out?
Scadlock started and played a total of 32 minutes.
I am writing this in admiration of his strength.
While this may have gone unnoticed, I could not stop thinking about it. I was in awe.
A young man taking charge of what he believes in, something America needs more of.
Kneeling during the National Anthem became a big controversy after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, made a decision that would change his life. While thousands of people stood for the National Anthem, he refused. Kaepernick wanted to protest the social injustices faced by people of color in the United States, even if it meant putting a stop to his childhood dreams.
Kaepernick caused an uproar.
There’s a man kneeling, therefore he’s disrespectful. And throwing him out of the game was easier to do than to hear what the man had to say.
People think he’s disrespecting our troops and veterans, but don’t realize a veteran told him to take a knee. Green Beret Nate Boyer wrote a letter to Kaepernick early in the 2016 season, which motivated them to meet up and discuss honoring the Anthem. Boyer told him that soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave to show respect.
That idea was a middle ground for the two of them since they have two different beliefs when it comes to the flag.
Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 and no team offered him a contract, since then he has never been back on a team. What a shame right? A man silently protesting for basic human rights gets penalized while others who treat people of color like we’re animals get off with mere slaps on the hand.
What does that tell younger fans or people of America?
“I became very angered about how people were responding to [Kaepernick’s] kneeling, primarily the coded language and the underlying message which disapproved of the issues [Kaepernick] was kneeling for,” Scadlock said.
Kaepernick inspired Scadlock.
After following all the media coverage and interviews he gave the first year he started to kneel, Scadlock became angered by how people were responding to Kaepernick’s decision. After watching him get black balled out of the league by NFL owners, Scadlock was inspired to kneel, too.
Watching Kaepernick take a knee, make various donations, as well as what he advocated for, also inspired Scadlock to learn more about how capitalism, systemic racism, and oppression affect African Americans and all people of color in the United States.
“The police brutality that is done onto black bodies is one of the many issues black people deal with every day, and as kneeling became a symbol for acknowledging and resisting these issues, I actually just started to feel more and more uncomfortable standing for the anthem,” Scadlock said. “Like [Kaepernick], I no longer felt like I could stand and take pride in being a part of a country that has these issues and to kneel was to at least address their existence.”
After the league handled Kaepernick’s decision to kneel in a poor and dismissive manner, Scadlock no longer watches the NFL. He said he can’t support the organization anymore.
Scadlock and Williams College men’s basketball head coach, Kevin App, have a great relationship, so when he made up his mind that he was going to begin kneeling, he wanted to let him know ahead of time in case people saw it at a game and began speculating. Scadlock thought it was important to make sure they were on the same page and explained to him why he was making the decision.
“I think the aspect of the discussion and further action is more important than just kneeling,” Scadlock said. “Some people have the privilege of being able to ignore these issues while black people have to deal with them every day.”
In the aftermath of Kaepernick kneeling not one coach publicly stuck up for him and his decision. They let the world chew him up while they stood in the back saying something along the lines of they didn’t want to discuss politics.
Or it’s just easier if he stood
It would be easier if America treated its people equally, sir.
Let’s put an end to the ignorance of thinking our voices don’t matter because we don’t have the highest platforms. Every little action we take is important. Think about history for a second.
The four African Americans who participated in the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter sit-in were just regular college students before they decided they were going to fight against the inequalities. Although the anger that they were met by was inhumane, they took that chance to fight for something they believed in, and we learn about those four college students today, in history class.
“I still think making any and everyone more aware of these issues and ways and reasons in which they are being resisted is important,” said Scadlock.
People of color and those who stand with us need to understand every time we speak up, we’re heading towards change. Every time we do something that pushes against the “norm,” we’re pushing towards change. It’s important to educate one another with patience.
You’re probably thinking, patience? Haven’t I been patient enough?
Patience is important because there are billions of people on this Earth with billions of different mindsets. Instead of getting frustrated because the inequalities have not stopped, understand that it might not look like it, but there are more people trying to understand and change the world than ever before.
Photo courtesy of Williams College Athletics