Dear President Trump,
I was very happy to see Eric Reid’s Op Ed in the NYT this morning explaining how thoughtful he and Colin Kaepernick were in their decision to take Mr. Kaepernick’s protest during the playing of the national anthem in a more visible direction. He described how they felt kneeling during the song would be both respectful and a pointed rebuke of the way our system continues to condone the killing of unarmed black men by the state. Even before reading his editorial I’d been planning to write you about the particular choice of kneeling and how, to me, it was a respectful and gentle way of registering protest. They didn’t opt to turn their backs or make an unprofessional rude gesture or anything of the sort. They took a knee. That’s what good sports do when someone on the field is hurt. I remember how on my daughter’s soccer team absolutely everyone took a knee when anyone on the field was down. I remember how put out the girls would get at the one team that never kneeled and instead carried on and joked while someone injured was being tended to. Showing respect for the injured person was simply what should be done; it stopped the action completely and allowed the injured player to be assessed in relative calm. There was also the palpable sense that every player on the field knew it could have been them who was down and they would have wanted the others to be good sports about it.
So Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid took a knee. In protest. To say Black lives matter. To say the loss of those unarmed Black people’s lives must not pass without comment just because the news cycle has moved on. To say it could have been them or someone dear to them. And they did so in a quiet, dignified way. I so hope some team is brave enough to pick Mr. Kaepernick back up, though I would worry about his safety quite a lot. Either way, he is a hero for using a nonviolent, deeply moving form of protest and you absolutely need to take a page from his playbook. You would be a much better person and leader for it.
May we be safe to protest injustice.
May we be happy to speak truth to power.
May we be healthy enough to hear that truth.
May we be open to facing our collective demons.