All over the country, young people continue to take a knee during the Star Spangled Banner to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. For them, perhaps because the world has not yet squeezed out all of their hope and optimism, or maybe because they know they have far more time left on this earth than 70-year-old Donald Trump, they each feel like taking a knee is a risk worth taking. Beautifully, they still believe this country can change. Hell, that’s what we taught them — the United States has had high highs and low lows, but after real struggles, it can change.
Disturbingly, perhaps no young athletes in America have paid the price for this demonstration like the young 11 and 12-year-old boys of the Beaumont Bulls football team in Beaumont, Texas. Situated between Houston to the west and Lafayette, Louisiana to the east, Beaumont is one of the many Texas towns which lives and breathes football. Many families in Beaumont have now been playing the game for generations. It’s what you do.
So, when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided during the NFL preseason to not stand for national anthem, it didn’t take long for the echoes to be heard in Beaumont. Students, coaches, and parents there not only follow the league closely, but feel like the plight of injustice in America is their own. Police brutality, wrongful arrests and racial violence plague black folk in Texas and Louisiana. Within days of Kaepernick staging his protest, the coaching staff of the Beaumont Bulls, led by head coach Rah-Rah Barber, privately discussed the possibility them taking a knee before their next game, before ultimately deciding against it. The coaches didn’t want to impose anything on the players. To their surprise, though, the young boys came to them and told them they wanted to take a knee. The shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police just two months prior had not only shaken Kaepernick and the Beaumont Bulls coaching staff, they deeply bothered the young students as well.