Student-athletes across the country are mimicking Colin Kaepernick's flag protest by taking a knee on the sideline during the national anthem. Standing up against injustice seems to be a high priority. But, who are you when nobody is watching?
It is safe to say that this football team is concerned about injustice, and now they have received national attention for their “courageous” activity. The coach was quoted as saying, "If these kids can be courageous enough to do this as kids, and they're leading by example, what impact can you have?" Martin Luther King Jr. said, “any injustice is a threat to justice everywhere.” But what injustice is worth standing up against. According to Martin Luther King, Jr., all injustice is a threat. Are the members of this team responding to all injustice in their school?
Are they leading by example?
Certainly, they are demonstrating against racial injustice, although many will debate whether it is an appropriate demonstration. But, do they stand up against all injustice, or only the injustice where people are watching, and the media are filming and snapping pictures? Are they equally concerned about the issues of bullying in their school? Do they stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves? When a male student corners a female student at a party and takes advantage of her unconscious state, will the members of the team stand up against this injustice and intervene? When there are gossip and rumors about a student's perceived sexual activities will members of the team stand up against this injustice? When members of the team witness a student bullying another because of perceived lifestyle, lisp, limp, obesity, red hair, nationality, religion, handicap, they are gay or other difference will they stand up against this injustice and intervene? When members of the team are aware of a dating violence situation will they stand up against this injustice? If members of the team are aware of a rape that occurred on a school field trip, will they stand up against this injustice? Or will they walk on by while speaking under their breath, "this is none of my business."
Actions speak louder than words. Individual action when nobody is watching is also louder than kneeling on the field while the media snaps pictures and broadcasts video nationwide. Are they courageous? To me, the courageous one is the student who takes a stand or does something directly to help another who is getting bullied or suffering abuse from a dating partner. Injustice is a threat to justice everywhere, yet frequently people will simply stand around and remain silent.
If the team is going to kneel publically for the national anthem to protest an injustice I sure hope the individual team members are modeling the same behavior against ALL injustice, particularly those that happen in private at their school. You know, the injustice that happens when the cameras and the media are not around. Character is who you are when nobody is watching.
Courageous? That's for you to decide.