All Voices Matter: Disagree but don’t disrespect


Prachurjya Shreya

In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

Colin Kaepernick, a formers San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is featured in Nike’s new ad campaign, and some people are furious. Twitter users trended the hashtag #BoycottNike in response to his feature, and even burned or destroyed their Nike merchandise in protest. My guess is that many of the people participating in this “boycott” are white, in the middle or high class, conservative, and claim that they support the veterans of America, and declare that Nike and Kaepernick are both disrespecting the American flag, American veterans, and America itself because of this collaboration.

Kaepernick has been under fire for his protest since 2016–that’s two years. He took a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice—which was a method that was recommended to him by United States Army Green Beret, Nate Boyer—and as a result he was dropped from his own team and shunned by half of the country.

You aren’t always going to like what someone says and you don’t have to, but you cannot act like you have the authority and moral high ground to force people to stay silent about an issue you don’t have the guts to talk about. ”

My view on Kaepernick has not changed since the first column I did on him during my freshman year. However, these “protestors” who are “boycotting” Nike by destroying their products that they bought with their own money instead of donating it to the veterans they care so much about, or to children across the world, or selling it, or even returning the items, aren’t achieving anything. Kaepernick’s message is once again brought to the spotlight and he’s getting money in the process, while people think they’ve really owned the libs by cutting up their sweaty Nike socks that they bought in 2013.

Instead of protesting Nike’s use of child labor and sweatshops, people are protesting the fact that the company featured a person as the face of their ad campaign they disagree with.

Police brutality and racial inequality are ever present problems in America, though some people do not like to admit it. When you are protesting, you’re demanding a change in something or bringing awareness to something; whether it’s an organization of thousands of people, hunger strikes, or taking a knee during the anthem.

Such protests have brought attention to issues that America just isn’t ready to face; racial injustice, reproductive rights, immigration, and political leaders are all subjects you don’t typically bring up at the dinner table, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed. How it’s discussed shouldn’t be judged either, because it is freedom of speech.

You aren’t always going to like what someone says and you don’t have to, but you cannot act like you have the authority and moral high ground to force people to stay silent about an issue you don’t have the guts to talk about. It’s common sense, a thing we’ve been taught since we were pretty much infants: treat people the same way you’d like to be treated—no one likes being disrespected or silenced. What do you gain from it besides humiliating, belittling, and possibly scaring those you silence?

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Kaepernick is not disrespecting veterans, especially when he reached out to a veteran to discuss a peaceful and respectful way of protesting. He does not have to shut up and “play the game”, because he is not a machine meant for your entertainment; he’s a human being, who has feelings and needs just as you and I do—just as any human being does, and it’s his right to exercise his freedom of speech. He is not holding you at gunpoint and forcing you to agree with him, he’s literally protesting for what he believes in, and therefore bring awareness to the issues that he feels are ignored by the majority of America. You are expressing your freedom of speech and protest by cutting up your Nike drawstring bag (that could’ve been used by someone else who needs them) because you feel as though Nike and Kaepernick are disrespectful to their own country or something.

There’s no difference besides their arguments. You’re both doing the same thing. It shouldn’t be such a big deal to have different opinions. Whatever one thinks of the recently deceased Arizona Senator John McCain, his words echo loudly today more than ever before.

“We need to recover some perspective about how much someone’s politics is a testament to their character,” McCain wrote in his memoir The Restless Wave. “When did politics become the principal or only attribute we use to judge people? Republicans and Democrats can be good neighbors, loving parents, loyal Americans, decent human beings. I don’t remember another time in my life when so many Americans considered someone’s partisan affiliation a test of whether that person was entitled to their respect.”