Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
In a paradoxically symbolic sense, can taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem actually represent the gesture to stand up?
During his video conference yesterday, Kyler Murray announced, without one iota of hesitation, that this season he will be kneeling during the national anthem. He summed up his raison d’être by asserting:
“I’ll be kneeling, I stand for what’s right and that’s the bottom line. I call it like I see it. What’s been going on is completely wrong. I will definitely be taking a knee.”
To Murray, kneeling = “standing up for what’s right.”
Murray went on to say that he is confident that his generation will clean the mess up.
If you watch the first 2-3 minutes of the video conference posted here, listen to what Kyler has to say about his parents’ generation versus his own and how times are changing with regard to racism and holding racists accountable.
Here is most of what Kyler said:
“My generation, we’re so diverse in so many ways. My parents’ generation grew up in segregated times—-but now it’s all coming together. “
“I do feel like there will be change because my generation—-we know what racism is—-and I feel like there’s not a lot of it in my generation.”
“I know the generations in front of me and my parents’ generation, there’s a lot of racism, whether we’re willing to believe it or not, there is and, you know, there’s a lot of hate in this world.”
“But, what we are seeing right now is huge, just ‘cause I feel like there’s the rioting and I do not condone that, but I think all of the peaceful protesting is amazing. I think that everything that is going on is amazing and I think that’s just the start of it.”
“You are seeing a whole lot of high profile people, a lot of owners and CEOs, speaking up on it—-it’s not enough just to not be a racist—-you have to be anti-racist.”
“You have to hold everyone accountable, because at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to—-holding everyone accountable.”
“The change, whether it takes years, I feel like we’re getting there—-at least making the steps toward it.”
Having just spent the last ten years of my high school teaching career with Gen Y and Gen Z students, I believe that everything that Kyler is saying about his generation is true. I have witnessed a dramatic decrease in racist attitudes—-and a dramatic rise in young people respecting each other’s “space.”
This generation is the first generation I have seen to reject and push back against bullying of any form—-with effective results. Same with name calling. Same with homophobia and xenophobia. Same with insensitivities toward their peers in the LGTBQIA communities. Same with sexism and objectification of women, in particular, as sex objects.
This generation of America’s youth is not only “talking the talk” and speaking out about everything they feel is wrong, BS and immoral, they are the most eager and willing I have ever seen to “walk the walk.”
For example, look at how a diverse, highly inspired cadre of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida responded to the slaying of their classmates at the hands of a deranged student. The leadership these students have shown and continue to show has had a major impact on state gun law reforms and the national attention to mass shootings.
If you haven’t seen Emma Gonzalez’s “March of Our Lives” speech—-it is priceless, imho.
The next time you watch a march of BLM protestors or a young, courageous anti-violence activist like Emma Gonzalez—-take a good, long look at their faces and if you can, take a good, long look into their eyes—-for these are the American faces of change.
To see 22 year old Kyler Murray don the same look in his eyes and not be afraid to speak his truth and not hesitate to tell the world that “I will be kneeling, because I stand up for what’s right”—-is the sign of the cardinal—-the very bringer of hope.
Like Kyler Murray avowed, “I am confident in my generation to fix this.”