Home of the free but not equal

President Trump responded to some of the football protests over Twitter (Photo provided by NY Times).

President Trump responded to some of the football protests over Twitter (Photo provided by NY Times).

Olivia Lighty, Online Editor

I’ve always stood for the national anthem out of respect for my family and its military service. But, recently, I’ve decided that I also need to kneel during a portion of  the anthem to show respect for victims of police injustice.

On Sept. 22, President Donald Trump ripped into the NFL and its coaches when football players kneeled during the national anthem. He insisted that coaches shouldn’t put up with the protest and say: “Get that son of a b***h off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

His remarks caused the NFL and citizens across the nation to join the debate, and many joined the revolt.

Multiple teams protested during football games. The first protests began Sept. 24 when several players from the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee or linked arms during the anthem. Two high school players in Texas were removed by their coach from the field after kneeling during the anthem. The students were told to remove their jerseys and leave the field. However in Indiana, football players are in the locker room for the national anthem but other fall teams are out on the field during the anthem.

These protests, however, are not aimed at the American flag or even Donald Trump. All of this is about the discrimination in our country today. Events that take place in this country, such as the Charlottesville rally, are reminders that our friends and family members face discrimination in this country everyday, and that even though we protest, nothing changes.

As a white, straight woman I’m not going to pretend that I know what it feels like to be African American,  Asian, Hispanic, gay, lesbian or transgender in America. I will never know the hurtful comments, the judgmental glances, or the hatred that minorities deal with because of their skin color, religion or LGBT status.

However, I will kneel for my friends, classmates and fellow citizens of this country who are not given the respect and equality that they deserve.

My friend junior Andrea Alvarez knows firsthand that being a Hispanic woman in America gets her looks from time to time.

“Whenever my family and I speak Spanish in public, I feel so judged.”

Alvarez says she knows all types of people are judged; she just thinks minorities face more blatant scrutiny.

“I don’t think white people are judged the same in public, but I do think white people are judged. People are hypocritical and want to hurt others that hurt them.”

So, I will kneel for my friends in protest and anger, hoping protests like mine lead to justice reforms.

But I will continue to stand for my military family members with pride and thanks. My grandpa was in the Air Force, my aunt, the Navy; and my uncle, the Army. I stand for my family because they sacrificed to protect me and America.

Contrary to Trump’s comments, some veterans support those who kneel during the national anthem.

Including my aunt and Navy veteran Kelly Osher. People who kneel are not anti-veteran or traitors, even though some politicians, like the president, try to convince weak-minded or naive people to condemn demonstrators, Osher said. She views their protests as freedom of speech, not disrespect for the flag.

Even though America is viewed as a united nation in other parts of the world, the truth is that it is not. Americans are divided, and I fear it will get worse until we stop treating our fellow friends, classmates, and family members like they are not important.

I’m disappointed that our country is still falling short of equal rights, despite the strides made in the 1900s with women suffrage, and the civil rights and feminist movements.

That’s why the next time I go to a football or basketball game and hear the national anthem, I will choose to stand, but I will also choose to kneel.