Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent and Patriotism in 21st Century America

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Eric Burin, ed., Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America.

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Reactions to Protesting on Bended Knee
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Protesting on Bended Knee eyes the modern crusade for racial equality through the prism of the demonstrations associated with Colin Kaepernick, a professional football player who in 2016 began kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to discrimination and injustice. A diverse array of thirty-one authors explain in brief essays what they see in the protests; collectively, they describe where the demonstrations fit within Americans’ quest to form “a more perfect union”; the legal landscape of dissent; the revival of athlete-activists; the tactics of protesters and counter-tactics of their opponents; and the perspective of others—reporters, coaches, players, and fans—“in the arena.” Their observations, along with an extensive Introduction by historian Eric Burin, provide a nearly contemporaneous account of the latest chapter in a freedom struggle as old as America itself.

Eric Burin is Professor of History at the University of North Dakota, and author of Slavery and the Peculiar Solution: A History of the American Colonization Society (2005) and editor of Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College (2016).

Listen to Eric Burin on Why? Radio, click here.

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Reactions

Protesting on Bended Knee is an important and timely new collection of essays on the current state of protests inspired in part by NFL footballer Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s campaign to highlight ongoing problems of racial inequality and the military-style policing of communities of color in America have generated wide and diverse reaction, responses that often reveal the disturbing gulf between American communities divided by race, class, and region. With essays from scholars, activists, athletes, and coaches Protesting on Bended Knee smartly situates the debates and heated responses to athletes taking a knee within the broader history of protests and the mass mobilization of athletes and people of color for change in America. Eric Burin should be congratulated for bringing together such a diverse range of reactions in a book that will shed much light and generate needed conversations about protest as a needed vehicle for change in America today.

Henry Kamerling, author of Capital and Convict: Race, Region, and Punishment in Post-Civil War America (2017)

“Eric Burin’s Protesting on Bended Knee is the collection we all need to understand, and to teach about, the multiple contexts surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem as a way to draw attention to police violence against African Americans. With dozens of short, accessible essays that both reflect contemporary reactions to events as they unfolded and also explain the historical roots of both the problem and the protests, this volume offers a great deal to anyone who wants to consider the meaning and the legacy of this significant moment in American political, cultural, social, and sporting history.”

Brad Austin, author of Democratic Sports: Men’s and Women’s College Athletics during the Great Depression (2015).

“Protesting on Bended Knee is activist scholarship of the highest order. Rooted in not only the deep history but also the very recent history of the multiplicity of issues involved with today’s protests in sports arenas, it provides serious context as well as timely commentary. After a masterful extended introduction by Eric Burin tying much of this history and these issues together, it provides a wide range of short pieces on various aspects of the controversies. It is also truly interdisciplinary, and draws on participants as well as observers. Both their length and their range make the individual chapters ideal for assigning, in parts or as a whole, in classes. The open-access nature of the volume also speaks to Burin’s and other participants’ desire to contribute substantially to an ongoing public and scholarly conversation. What it all adds up to is the ideal volume of scholarship that intersects with teaching and public history.”

Matthew Mason and Stacey Robertson, Co-directors of Historians Against Slavery

Table of Contents

Opening Ceremonies

A Regent of Justice

D. M. Kingsford …………………………………………………………………………….. i

Preface

Praesens Historicum (The Historic Present)
Eric Burin……………………………………………………………………………………… iii

Introduction
Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America
Eric Burin……………………………………………………………………………………… 1

Section One: The United States and Its Anthem

“Oh Say, Can You See?”: The National Anthem
Jon Foreman …………………………………………………………………………………. 87

Mild Protest
Clay S. Jenkinson …………………………………………………………………………. 93

Section Two: The Law

Bearing Witness for Civil Liberties
Shawn Peters………………………………………………………………………………… 101

Trump’s National Anthem Outrage
Ignores Decades of Supreme Court Rulings
Emma Long ………………………………………………………………………………….. 105

Anthem Protests in High School Athletics
Mark Rerick ………………………………………………………………………………….. 111

Celebrity Voices are Powerful,
But Does the First Amendment
Let Them Say Anything They Want?
Shontavia Johnson ……………………………………………………………………….. 115

The Surprising Connection between
‘Take a Knee’ Protests and Citizen United
Elizabeth C. Tippett………………………………………………………………………. 123

Section Three: Athlete-Activists

#PlayingWhileWhite: The Colin Kaepernick Saga and the

(A)political White Athlete
David J. Leonard …………………………………………………………………………… 133

Black Women Athletes, Protest, and Politics:
An Interview with Amira Rose Davis
Ashley D. Farmer ………………………………………………………………………….. 141

Voices Beneath the Helmets:
Athletes as Political Outsiders
Joseph Kalka…………………………………………………………………………………. 149

The Oppressive Seeds of the Colin Kaepernick Backlash
J. Corey Williams ………………………………………………………………………….. 157

A Former NFL Players Explains
Why We Need More Colin Kaepernicks
[An Interview with Chris Kluwe]
Matt Connolly ………………………………………………………………………………. 165

What Does It Mean to be Important?
Jack Russell Weinstein………………………………………………………………….. 171

Section Four: Tactics

Allen’s Knee
Richard Newman………………………………………………………………………….. 177

Colin Kaepernick and the Power of Black Silent Protest
Ameer Hasan Loggins ………………………………………………………………….. 179

African American Patriotism during the World War I Era
David Krugler……………………………………………………………………………….. 187

We Interrupt This Program
Sharon Carson………………………………………………………………………………. 195

E Kaepernick Unum: How Our Changing Media Habits
Have Left Sports Our Place for Diverse Debate
Sarah Cavanah …………………………………………………………………………….. 201

Section Five: Counter-Tactics

“They Will Use This Against You”:
The Context and Legacy of the 2001 France vs. Algeria Protests
Andrew N. Wegmann……………………………………………………………………. 207

Unite the Right, Colin Kaepernick, and Social Media
Azmar K. Williams……………………………………………………………………….. 215

Endgames
Mark Stephen Jendrysik ……………………………………………………………….. 221

Reparations as Fantasy:
Remembering the Black-Fisted Silent Protest at the
1968 Mexico City Games
Jamal Ratchford …………………………………………………………………………… 225

Section Six: Others in the Arena

Why Sports Journalists Shouldn’t Just “Stick to Sports”
Brad Elliott Schlossman ……………………………………………………………….. 233

Coaches, Athletes, and Colin Kaepernick
Gelaine Orvik ……………………………………………………………………………….. 235

Learning Extends Beyond the Practice Field
Mike Berg……………………………………………………………………………………… 239

If You’re Explaining, You’re Losing:
Questioning Kaepernick’s Tactics, Not Cause
Mac Schneider and David Butler ………………………………………………….. 243

How Social Activism Can Clash with Military Core Values
Randy Nedegaard …………………………………………………………………………. 247

The Veteran View of Colin Kaepernick
Matt Eidson………………………………………………………………………………….. 253

The Difference Between
Black Football Fans and White Football Fans
Tamir Sorek and Robert G. White …………………………………………………. 257