After football players and coaches spent the weekend speaking out in various forms of protest against President Donald Trump's tweets against kneeling during the national anthem, which they see as attacks on free speech, celebrities are starting to join the fight. Following former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to start kneeling during the national anthem before games as a form of peaceful protest against racial injustice, slowly, others have begun to follow suit.
The cast of Grey's Anatomy alongside showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who is a longtime advocate for racial justice, joined in this week as they celebrated the show's 300th episode — and took a knee "in solidarity of racial justice," according to Rhimes. A photo she posted to Instagram shows her kneeling alongside stars Ellen Pompeo and Jesse Williams, who is also an outspoken advocate for equality.
Kaepernick has arguably become the face of athletes choosing to exercise their right to freedom of speech and right to peaceful protest by taking a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of sporting events. Kaepernick gained public attention when he first took a knee to protest the treatment of black Americans, notably in regard to police brutality.
His simple form of protest has become a lightning rod for concern and in some cases ire from some Americans, who believe that Kaepernick's actions are disrespectful. Some, including the president, have gone so far as to call for the firing of athletes who kneel, saying that taking a knee is disrespectful to veterans, service members and the country. It's should be noted that there are indications a verse of the poem, a section of which later became the official national anthem, is racist, but supporters encourage people to recognize the specific reason for Kaepernick's protest (to draw attention to police brutality against people of color) and why the #TakeAKnee movement has been adopted so quickly and so widely by athletes, celebrities and public figures.
While much of the NFL protests Trump's words, Kaepernick still hasn't been hired by any team since he became a free agent (which happened after his protests started to draw national attention, but before others so widely joined in).
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told NFL.com. "To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
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