TAKE A Knee – Advocating for social justice in the 21st Century

#TakeA Knee is the hashtag that continues to be a social movement highlighted in the mainstream and social media’s. The movement was started by NFL football player Colin Kaepernick who knelt before a pre-season game for National Anthem the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. After the event Kaepernick was fired for his personal for not standing up. The hashtag represents a subculture of social media, specifically Twitter, in a stance about the oppression of black people and people of color.

According to Reed (2014) on affinity cultures who have “been defined by race, class, gender, language, religion or other primary social factor, has been dominated, overlooked, harassed, or discriminated against as a group, joining together can be essential to health and survival.” (p. 98). The trick for socially marginalized populations seem to be to find a way to utilize the benefits of group solidarity while also connecting with the world of the dominant group in order to assert their group’s equality and right.” (p. 98) Twitter is a social platform that we have seen utilized for many marginalized groups, is at the forefront of activist to combat social justice issues in today’s world.  Much like the mainstream media, Twitter has become a powerful way to alter social beliefs and traditions. Much like the “Black Lives Matter”, the “Take a Knee” movement is anti-racist movement of activists seeking to bring awareness of the continued oppression of black people and people of color and to also include police brutality and some harassment movements. According to an article written by psychologist Dr. Pascal Sauvayre, he suggests Kaepernick’s Taking a Knee calls upon us to respect the person’s defenselessness. Far challenging the other to a fight or argument, taking a knee fold the body into a humbling position. Through this deferential body language, Kaepernick challenges us to stop and reflect on the humanity of the victims to whom he is drawing our attention. Precisely in a sport where power and force is central, the gesture speaks truce of power.”

In my analysis, I will examine how the TakeAKnee represents itself, how those who belong to the community contribute to the identity and how how those who do not belong to the community contribute to the community. Activists of the “Take a Knee” contribute to the identity of the movement in a plethora of ways. Many utilized social media by platforms, especially Twitter, by retweeting content on the controversial matter or posting picture of Kaepernick kneeling with quotes and a shout out of support for his courage. Other’s protest in the streets with chants and signs or in or at NFL events signs and even small town America and around the world at athletic organizations. The tweeting and retweeting of counter-narratives of news being reported on the updated activities of the movement. A large amount of tweets and retweets in the #TakeAKnee movement are political nature in the fact that President Trump weighs in often through his tweeter handle. Two hashtags I believe represents the movement atmosphere to the controversial events is from April 5 tweeted by @JCTTheResistance and @OwlLove34 on April 14. The posts, of narrative are short but incorporate inserted pictures with language. Both pictures are of the American flag, one with an eagle’s head hanging down in shame and the other with flags upside down with following saying:

I’ll take a knee with Colin Kaepernick, before I ever stand with Donald Trump and the other in all caps

THERE IS NO FLAG LARGE ENOUGH TO COVER THE SHAM OF KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE

According to a paper written by Devora (2017) the Activist DeRay Mckesson, who spoke at John Hopkins University last year “at a student-run symposium: Milton S. Eisenhower, social media is being used to “as a method of advocating for the self and not relying on media giants to accurately protestors, in the context of Ferguson protests and “Black Lives Matter” movement. People of color are always facing issues of erasure, and erasure operates in two ways – one, the story is never told, or it’s told to everyone but us. And in this moment, we became the erased.” It is true African-American culture and other cultures of color are often criminalized in the media. Often in the cases of the Take A Knee and Black Lives Matter movements, society witnesses a two-sided malicious divide. Both hashtags employ national debates on racial issues and bias in the mass media outlets when it comes to reporting on black community. For now the “Take A Knee” movement is providing a social space to rally and connect marginalized groups of not just black American but of all races to restructure socially appropriate discourse to bridge century old gaps of racial disparity. However, the plights to conclude racism and assumptive brutality of black Americans continues, there is always hope aand as Reed (2014) states, “While the vast amount of racism and ethnocentrism in digital cultures is deeply disturbing and discouraging, the digital world, by exposing the continued existence of racisms and ethnocentrisms many have claimed we have left behind, enables critical mapping of these social blights, as well as providing new technical tools for fighting them.” (p. 100). “Take A Knee” is advocating for social justice for black Americans and other people of color one tweet at a time.

References

Sauvayre, Pascal. (2017, Oct. 30) Kaepernick’s Taking a Knee: The time to reflect is perhaps more important now than ever.

Devora, C. (2017, Oct 11). Social media: A tool for social justice. University Wire

Reed, T. (2014) Digitalized lives; Culture power and social exchange in the Internet era. New       York: Rutledge.

 

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