Dear Ashlyn Montgomery,

I’m certain that I’m having trouble finding the right words to say about you and your thoughts on the National Football League protests. I understand you may be frustrated or disappointed, but I’d like to think you’re simply naive. You use the word “inhuman” to describe the protests that are happening, but I believe you might just be misusing that word. The massive human rights violations happening in Palestine, the food shortages in Venezuela, the lack of aid in Puerto Rico, the unjust killings and militarization of the police and the recent shooting in Las Vegas are just some things that could be considered inhuman. Taking a knee at a football game isn’t part of that list.

First of all, you’re missing the entire concept of why these football players are choosing to protest. They’re not protesting the constitution or the flag or veterans or anything of that nature. They’re protesting the systematic inequalities and oppression that are present and strong in this country. People of color have been suffering endlessly in this country since its creation, and they’re striving to simply be equal. To have the same opportunities in the workplace and in the community. To have the same opportunities for life at the hands of law enforcement. This is what they fight for. It’s a nonviolent form of protest that has opened a level of discussion that has not held the same level of public interest since the civil rights movements led by Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow patriots.

You say that all people need to do is talk and peaceful protest to solve their issues and that you’re open to freedom of speech. But what is freedom if it’s controlled and isolated for a “convenient” time and place? Is that not the definition of oppression? People of color don’t often have the luxury of a comfortable conversation when faced with often violent oppression. I’m sure Philando Castile wasn’t waiting for a convenient time to write a letter to the officer to not open fire on him.

You say that kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful. I’d like to argue that in many cultures, there is nothing more revered than kneeling. Do you kneel when they break the bread on the altar, or do you stand? This is a calm, silent and powerful protest that’s not hurting you or anyone else. It’s a textbook definition of a peaceful protest. It’s not disrespecting our veterans or police officers in any way. Many close friends and family of mine have served this country. My brother is a police officer, and I myself am planning service of my own, so don’t tell me that I wouldn’t understand the sacrifice. We haven’t sacrificed to be disenfranchised and opposed when asking for equality at home. It’s in no way disrespectful to fight for what’s right.  What is disrespectful to these people is something like a KKK hood, Confederate flag or Nazi swastikas. Those are literally the symbols of wartime #losers…

Nothing in the Constitution we hold so dear is opposing this type of protest. Nothing says that we’re required to stand for the national anthem, and even if it did, the NFL is a private entity that would be free of government restraints. But did you know that the Constitution says the flag should never be used on advertising or that it's not allowed to be held horizontal? I didn’t think so. Please stop misusing the constitution for your own political gain.

I’d like to believe that you’re so passionate on this issue because you’re simply misinformed. I’d like to think that you don’t understand the true motives behind these protests and that your opinion will be waived by the truth. I invite you to open your mind to new horizons and ideas. This isn’t North Korea; we’re blessed with the joys of freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Please, please, please, turn off Fox and Breitbart and learn about this country. Learn about our past and our current struggles and aim towards a brighter future. You are correct in your statement that we’re not black, white or orange. We’re all different shades of brown and all we want is equality.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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