Robert Traynham

It’s amazing to me that so many NFL players, their owners and their fans are taking a stand while, ‘taking the knee.’

It’s obvious that President Trump is confused as to what the true meaning of this movement is all about when he made comments a few days ago that said, “to me that was a very important moment. I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem.”

Hmmm. I don’t get it. And I also don’t get why some — and I stress some — also don’t get that this really is not about the national anthem.

It’s about Black Lives — Black men’s lives in particular and what Colin Kaepernick did back in August of 2016 was the equivalent of a modern day “Rosa Parks moment’ — he refused to remain silent and decided to use his position to quietly make a statement. A dignified statement about truth, about our country, and about life.

Kaepernick is virtually unemployable right now due to his public stance, but that’s ok. He’s going to be ok and so will we. History will prove that what Kaepernick started a year ago is just the start of a national conversation about who we are as a people, the struggles that remain to be endured, and a president — and some of his followers — who struggle to understand what it means to be an American –and what it means to be a Black American and this is what I wish the conversation would shift to.

To be clear, this is not about a lack of love for the country or for the flag. It’s not about patriotism or the lack of love for country, it’s about dignity and respect for the individual as a whole, which is the very essence of what the national anthem is all about.

In fact, don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at the often overlooked, never sung last paragraph of the lyrics of our nation’s anthem, “O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation. Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land. Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just. And this be our motto: In God We Trust. And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

And this is what we should be talking about and this is what the President and others should be leading with — we are the home of the brave and the free, but we are still on that quest for a more perfect union. We’re not there yet, but we’re on the road to get there.

Ill informed comments from a vocal few shouting that this is about some people not being patriotic is utterly false and if we can continue down that narrative the road where on will find us making a U-turn on progress.

But if the silent majority speaks up and reminds us that this is about making sure that all lives — all lives — matter then we begin the conversation of healing and understanding.

 Robert Traynham is the vice president of communications for the Bipartisan Policy Center. He can be twitted at @roberttraynham.

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