In a recent article Colin Kaepernick has publicly exhibited his opposition to patriotic symbols by sitting down during the national anthem. It is a fact that many school aged youth look up to public figures which includes football players. Schools will be forced to grapple with students who refuse to honor patriotic symbols and processes due to the Colin Kaepernick incident.
According to the article, Colin Kaepernick’s Fight against racism, Kaepernick wanted to show solidarity with the #blacklivesmatter movement and decided to take a stand against “oppression,” by choosing not to stand for the national anthem. He went on to say that that officers who committed “murder” have been placed on administrative leave referring to the Michael Brown incident.
Kaepernick told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche that his protest is for something much more important than the game. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
The San Francisco 49ers expressed in a statement that the pre-game ceremony provides an opportunity to honor the rights and liberties that American citizens are afforded. “In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.” The NFL itself also stated that players are not required to stand during the national anthem.
San Francisco 49er head coach Chip Kelly, who has faced racism allegations in the past, exclaimed that Kaepernick’s decision not to stand is his right. “[I]t’s not my right to tell him not to do something,” exclaimed Chip Kelly.
Other NFL players have chimed in by either endorsing or opposing the efforts of Colin Kaepernick. Many school aged youth look up to our sport players. This opposition to patriotic symbols could become a catalyst for frustration in schools and for teachers.
What are some of the patriotic symbols that students could oppose as a result of the Colin Kaepernick incident?
One of the primary patriotic symbols that exist in public schools is the American flag. You will find an American Flag in front of each school. The responsibility is delegated to someone in the school to raise the flag before the beginning of school and to lower the flag at the end of school. You will also find an American flag in each classroom as well as in the main auditorium. It means that the American flag has become an important staple in our education system.
You will also find that schools request that their students stand for the flag salute at the beginning of each school day. This process is endorsed by school administration as well as school policy. Schools have to be careful that their request does not violate the individual rights of students.
Even though there are several reasons why schools can violate students rights, students who are in public schools are not stripped of their rights completely. In Board v Barnette (319 US 624 ), the Supreme Court ruled that students could not be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor otherwise salute the flag against their will. In Tinker v Des Moines (393 US 503 ), the Supreme Court ruled that students wearing black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War could not be forced to remove the arm bands by school officials. As written in Tinker, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Schools can respond to Colin Kaepernick’s incident by ensuring that students know that it is their right. However, the Colin Kaepernick incident is not an excuse to disrupt the educational process for which students should be counseled and if their behavior does not improve they should receive a consequence.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President