This past week, President Trump calledout NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem. As a result, many NFL football players rebelled and took a knee, leading to the hashtag #TakeAKnee. This movement was initially started by Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Collin Kapernick, who sat in protest during the national anthem for the first three weeks of the preseason in 2016 because he refused to stand up and show pride to a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.
NFL players aren't the only one sports players to have knelt in protest of the unjustified killings of unarmed people of color by police. Raianna Brown, a college student and dance team member from Georgia Institute of Technology, decided to take a stand last year around this time, kneeling as the national anthem played during a Georgia Tech football game.
She explained to Fresh U that a police killing of Terence Crutcher impacted her motives.
"On September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher, a Black father, brother, son and student, was shot fatally by a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma," Brown said via Twitter direct messages. "The impact of Mr. Crutcher’s death, along with many others of its kind that year, was palpable in the Black community. I kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick as a statement about the unjust killings of people of color in our country. I did not kneel to disrespect the flag; instead, I sought to question the morals of the nation it represents."
Prior to taking a knee, her coach was supportive and pointed her towards the right resources in the Georgia Tech Athletic Association PR team. Though she is no longer on the dance team, that hasn't stopped her from finding a way to spread her message to raise awareness. She recently co-founded a dance company called, "RAIIN Dance Theater."
"The recent killings of unarmed POC by police, the inhumane treatment of POC, and the resulting protests served as inspiration for my company’s first production: 'in Human.' The piece draws from the literary work of Toni Morrison and the visual aesthetics of Jean-Michel Basquiat to explore the intricacies of movement and influences of social justice within art. The 21st century movement for social justice is not the first of its kind, and I am not the only artist to bring awareness to it," she said. "Nevertheless, it would be a disservice for me not to use my platform, no matter how big or small, to oppose unjust treatment. As Nina Simone once said, 'An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times.'"
People on Twitter admired Brown for taking a stand.
"Some people think kneeling during the anthem is a form of disrespect but I don’t mean any disrespect," she said. "I made sure to research why the anthem is played at sporting events and when that began before I did it. But it didn’t feel right to stand when so many people are being killed unlawfully or being treated unlawfully in prison systems. It’s important to put yourself on the line, even if you’re nervous, and make a stand for something you believe in."