According to the free dictionary, "to be allegiant" is to display constancy, duty, and faithfulness, especially to a ruling body. In that sense, most of us were taught in our formative years to show honour and respect to our "homeland" by singing the national anthem or by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of every school day. Right?
Well, now that we're grown, how many of us can say we really knew what the heck it was that we were honouring in our youth when reciting these pledges? And, knowing what we know now of the world... would we still blindly continue to chant the words of these antiquated decrees? Would O' Canada still sound as idyllic and cheery as it did then if we knew just how poorly our Indigenous people are being treated in their "home and native land"? Food for thought...
Now - unless you've been living under a rock for the past two months (or without WiFi... same diff.), you know that several athletes (of colour) have recently come under fire for being 'unpatriotic' in their homeland of the U. S. of A.
The first issue occurred back in July, when several members of WNBA teams decided to wear Black Lives Matter tees during their warm-ups, after the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers. Then, during the Rio 2016 Olympics, social media publicly tore US gold-medal gymnast, Gabby Douglas, a new one for disredpecting her country when she didn't put her hand over her heart to 'salute the flag' while on the podium. And now, NFL player, Colin Kaepernick is in the hot seat for remaining seated during the national anthem at a pre-game. Kaepernick fully owns his bold stance (or his bold "sit" in this case) and admits that his act was in direct response to the prevalent and rampant issue of police brutality against people of colour in America.
In the WNBA scenario, the players were swiftly fined for "violating the league's uniform policy" (aka "publicly" supporting Black Lives Matter via their t-shirts).
[The fines were later dropped by the league's president, after she claimed she understood the players' desire to use their platform for an important issue.]
In Gabby Douglas' case, when the internet came for her - she took to social media quickly to defend herself by clarifying that her act (or lack there of) was an unintended mistake. Basically, she felt the pressure and the need to apologize in order to ultimately be spared further internet attacks. But Colin... well, that's a different story.
Much like when Jessie Williams delivered his powerful speech at this year's BET Awards - Colin's actions have proven to be simultaneously inflammatory and inspiring. Many people (likely Trump supporters) have threatened him and labelled him unpatriotic, disrespectful, and "un-American". Many others though, have shown public support on social media. A couple of other NFL players of colour have even joined him in his sit-outs; but no white people have really stepped up and actively shown their solidarity. Sure, a few have semi-sided with him via social media, but none have really taken the extra leap of action.
Enter white ally - Megan Rapinoe.
On Sunday, during one of her matches, US women's soccer player, Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem, as an act of solidarity with Kaepernick. When asked about her decision to take a knee, Rapnoe explained:
Yes. And. Yes! Like I said in a previous post, THIS, ladies and gents, is how you can properly pimp your privilege. While it isn't necessary for the privileged to take the lead in the fights of the marginalized; it is imperative that they at least try to take a stand. They can lend their voice and a helping hand to the cause without trying to usurp the entire movement.
It should also be noted that Megan is part of the LGBT community, and thus... is in a marginalized group of her own. In a sense... she gets why it's important for people outside of a particular marginalized community to rally with other minority groups. And while it's impossible to tell whether or not her actions were completely altruistic in that moment - I think it was still an important step in the right direction.
At the end of the day all human beings deserve basic equal rights and freedoms. And it's our duty to speak up when we see those rights being threatened. If a particular country's flag and anthem claim to represent "one Nation... indivisible, with liberty and justice for all", then shouldn't our primary allegiance, as human beings, be to the true meaning of these decrees... and not the skewed and sullied versions that we've allowed them to become?
For anyone who wants to "make America great again" - I challenge you to start by examining what it is you're really pledging allegiance to (i.e. on behalf of your country's past), and then work your way to present day. Chances are, you'll find quite a bit of disconnect.