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A nation divided

Currently, there are two words with the power to spark an immediate, heated argument among citizens in our nation: Colin Kaepernick.

This one name has been the center of an ongoing controversy in our country, one with the strength to divide us in half. For those who do not know the details of this division, Kaepernick was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. In 2016, he began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games.

Viewers were outraged. When asked why he was disrespecting our country in such a way, Kaepernick said he wanted to raise awareness on issues such as racism, social injustice and police brutality against “people of color.”

Although I do not condone kneeling during the national anthem, I also do not understand what it is like to be a black person in our country. I have never faced major injustice because of the color of my skin, nor have other white people I know.

While I do not condone Kaepernick’s choice of action, our country provides American citizens the right to peacefully protest. American citizens also have the right to kneel and pray before football games or take part in grossly unjust organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

This is the beautiful and terrifying gift of freedom we have in our nation. Though I do not have to agree with Kaepernick’s specific actions, I do believe he is doing what he thinks is right in order to create necessary change.

Racism is alive and well. It was not killed in the Civil Rights Movement, or even after years of “progressive” action. No number of years can snuff out generations who raise their children to believe one race is better than another.

Stephon Clark. Philando Castile. Botham Shem Jean.

These are just a few of the African-American citizens who were wrongfully killed in the past few years, arguably with the main reason being because they were black.

It is not just black men who are victims. Just recently, an 11-year-old black girl was tased after shoplifting food. The officer who tased her, also black, told her, “You know, sweetheart, this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community.”

As if there are no white girls who have ever shoplifted food because they were hungry.

Philando Castile was pulled over for a broken taillight and threatened by the officer who promptly shot Castile twice in the heart. Castile’s girlfriend was in the front seat and live-streamed the murder on Facebook.

Amber Guyger, a white policewoman off-duty, shot Botham Shem Jean after accidentally entering his apartment, mistaking it for her own. Jean was a beloved alumnus of Harding University.

According to Mapping Police Violence, in 2017 most police killings occurred after responding to non-violent offenses or where no crime was reported. The report also said, “black people were more likely to be killed by police, more likely to be unarmed and less likely to be threatening someone when killed.”

White males have been the cause of more mass shootings than any other race, yet there is no outcry to profile predominately white communities. Blacks make up 13 percent of the general population and yet they are 40 percent of the prison population.

Clearly, we have not come as far as we claim.

To those who still cannot understand Kaepernick, let me remind you of the Boston Tea Party: a group of individuals illegally went against the government because of persecution and injustice. Many were outraged at their actions, but without the courage of this group, we would not be in the country we are in today.

Whether you agree with Kaepernick or see him as a total embarrassment, our nation needs healing. We are still divided on primitive issues such as race—many are blind and even more are hurting.

What are we doing to create change?

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