By Olivia House
Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner…5 of the many reasons I have been taking a knee during the National Anthem for the past two seasons I’ve been playing soccer here at Augsburg.
Anyone who keeps up with national news and sports knows that NFL players have been taking a stand against racial injustices, police brutality, systemic racism, etc. by kneeling during the National Anthem. What started off as Colin Kaepernick kneeling before a preseason game, has been widespread across the nation.
Other professional players, high school athletes, and collegiate athletes have started taking a knee to protest these same injustices. In spite of the many arguments attempting to denounce the intentions of these peaceful demonstrations, activists and athletes have continued to take a stand, with large support from many organizations. I am proud to be a lead organizer and designer of one organization in particular that is looking to take this protest to the next level.
Take a Knee Nation (TAKN) is a grassroots organization whose goal is to bring attention to a few of the major issues these athletes around the nation have been bringing to the public’s attention: police brutality, racism, and the right to protest.
TAKN was started by longtime activists and students in the Minneapolis, Boston, Cincinnati, and St. Louis areas, and has been largely organized and executed right here in the Twin Cities. The group has been taking a knee during the National Anthem in front of US Bank Stadium for Vikings’ games for a large part of the season.
Through snow and sub-zero degree Sundays, TAKN has faithfully endured to get this message across. Take a Knee Nation has been spending the season planning for an even bigger movement: a national conference and rally for Super Bowl weekend.
This conference is organized primarily to bring together families of victims who have been affected by police brutality, student-athletes who have taken a knee, and activists to come together as a community to talk through these issues. Workshops are being provided to give a deeper analysis of race, police violence, and class as it relates to our rights to protest. And it seeks to build a national grassroots organization to keep pressure on the administration to put an end to police violence.
If you’re a budding activist like myself, you have probably thought about what you would do if you were alive during the Civil Rights movement: this is our modern-day Civil Rights era! And while we aren’t explicitly denied the rights of our white counterparts, we’re systemically kept out of the poll booths. We aren’t hanging from trees, we’re being ruthlessly killed by those employed to protect us. And this isn’t just for my fellow Black brothers and sisters, this for my white friends, allies, comrades: use your natural born privilege to help marginalized groups.
I call all of you to actively make a difference and stand against the injustices happening in our own backyard. For me, this is being a part of Take a Knee Nation and similar grassroots organizations with the same goals. I urge you to attend the TAKN National Conference this weekend and rally with us on Sunday at 4pm near US Bank Stadium (8th Street & Chicago)
Don’t sit back and wonder what you would do, act right now. [For more information and to register for the free conference, visit http://www.takeakneenation.com]