What It Means to Take A Knee

Taking a knee was a small gesture

Taking a knee can have mean many things. It can simply be a moment of rest. It can signify a moment to pray. Taking a knee can also be a gesture of protest.

Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press noted in his article, Colin Kaepernick has more support now, still long way to go that:

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to take a stand against police brutality and racial injustice in 2016, he was mostly alone. Politicians, team owners and fellow players criticized him, fans burned his jersey, and he was booed even at home. Four years later, his protest is widely viewed as prescient. Global opinion has shifted so much that more people are now vilifying those who attack Kaepernick or misrepresent his stance.

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Change happens. Positive change happens. Sometimes, it does not happen quickly or even sensationally. But it happens.

As Kaepernick took his knee the first time, he was alone. Then a few others joined him. Then the outrage overtook his message – his protest – and made it something altogether different, something to abuse and accuse and condemn.

The meaning of taking a knee

It’s worthwhile to reconsider what taking a knee can mean. Now we know it says:

  • Pay attention!
  • Listen!
  • We need to change!
  • We can make a difference!
  • We can do this!

Police take a knee

Morgan Phillips of Fox News reported that Capitol Police officers take a knee to cheers of protestors. They did so to protest police brutality following the death of George Floyd. Phillips stated:

Protesters gathered outside of the Coral Gables station house in Miami-Dade County on Saturday, where police and protesters came together, taking a knee to join in a moment of peace and prayer.

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Taking a knee shows we are ready for change

Our nation is poised to shift to a new reality. The Covid-19 has forced change upon us, forcing a new normal upon us. The economic depression has forced us to reconsider work and bills and societal financial support.

We are ready.

Two weeks ago, we watched for eight minutes while a defenseless man literally had his life, his breath, crushed out of him while someone took a knee on his back. The reactions have run the gamut from outrage, anger, and violence, to feelings of fatigue, helplessness, and deep, deep sorrow.

We are ready for a change.

Our world, our sense of reality, shrinks during times of crises such as what we now see and hear and feel. Everything means something – or falls away to mean nothing, nothing at all. We die if we let the crises win.

Democracy means taking a knee

In the midst of all the noise (there’s so much noise) we must recognize that we need each other. We must recognize the fears all of us have along with the hopes and moments of connection we can share.

You feel something I don’t. You know something I don’t. You respond differently than I do. Your voice is different than mine. I need to listen to you.

The paragraph you just read is, in my humble opinion, the crux of our democracy. We need to acknowledge one another so we include one another and respect one another. We are, as COVID-19 reminded us mere weeks ago, in this together.

Presidential elections require we take a knee

So it is with our elections. Elections seldom turn out perfectly. Some voters are disappointed and best expectations sometimes get dashed; some voters are left dissatisfied. But we press on and try again the next time. We press on together.

Our next presidential election is less than five months away. Because of the winner-takes-all approach every state uses; we will again be disappointed and dissatisfied. Oh, not because of who wins or loses – no! We will be so because the voting mechanism itself fails us. We have shackled the Electoral College to a heavy weight that prevents it from serving us, the nation, well.

It’s like a knee pressed upon our collective necks.

Some promise that the National Popular Vote (NPV) can make elections right. It cannot because it still exercises the winner-takes-all approach, disenfranchising even more voters than we suffer now. Like so much tear gas and pepper spray and rubber bullets, NPV cannot force the crowd back and bring it under control. As it defies the U.S. Constitution, ignores the sovereignty of states, and puts even more votes at risk of nonrepresentation, NPV hides the change we need.

It’s like another knee pressed upon our collective necks.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) frees the nation by ensuring all votes matter. Instead of relying on a fraction of voters to pick the nation’s president, EVV counts them all. EVV underscores the idea that we need to hear from all perspectives and respond to all needs – all issues – all values.

All EVV requires is that we choose to respect the moment, the opportunity. We need to take a knee so we can pay attention, listen, and acknowledge that we need to change, that we can make a difference, that we can do this.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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