The energy in the room was slightly polarized as the Diversity In Action (DNA) team asked students and community members to sit on the side that represents their beliefs. The discussion was titled “Where do you stand when some take a knee?” alluding to Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protest on the football field. As the event began to take off, co-hosts Kelly Johnson and Steve Broussard asked each side to explain why they agreed with that particular stance.
One of the main arguments coming from the “Against kneeling” side was that regular, everyday people are not allowed to actively protest in their workplace so the same rules should apply to Kaepernick. As the student made this statement, there were nods of encouragement coming from those who felt the same way.
Shifting to the other side, there were arguments explaining the importance of protesting and how Kaepernick has a huge platform that he should use to shine a light on issues that otherwise might not receive attention. This argument seemed to be a driving force as the conversation began to really kick off. As always, the DNA team handed out different colored chips to the audience and asked them to sit in the section that correlated with their respective colors, essentially mixing the audience.
One of the first questions centered around the National Anthem asked the audience to reflect on what the anthem means to them personally. An international student offered a different perspective as they explained what the national anthem means for any country: Pride. When the song comes on and people put their hands over their heart, they are essentially showing pride for their country and how far their people have come. Another student used the word “Freedom” to describe what the anthem meant to them.
The next question directly related to core of the discussion as the co-hosts asked “Did Kaepernick have a good reason to protest?” Immediately an audience member stood up and said “Yes, police brutality is a serious issue and it needs to be addressed.” Overall, the audience expressed that they did in fact believe Kaepernick had a good reason to protest as young, unarmed, black men were being murdered on the streets. A lot of people did not seem to be concerned with the epidemic at hand.
The conversation seemed to be productive despite the difficult conversation. At the end of the event, students were able to continue their discussions afterwards alluding to the topic and where they stood.