Illustration for article titled We Still Kneeling in 2020: Former Teacher of the Year Takes a Knee at Game Attended by Trump
Screenshot: TED-Ed/YouTube

I’ve always thought that if, on the fateful day when Colin Kaepernick chose to remain seated during the National Anthem in protest of police violence against black people, the media, zealous patriots, and angry white people, in general, would’ve just ignored him and not made such a big to-do about it, the NFL wouldn’t be plagued with the silent protests that gets their Star-Spangled underoos all in a bunch four years later. After all, it’s not as if he stood up in his seat and started kicking over Gatorade kegs while blasting NWA’s Fuck Tha Police through a loudspeaker. All he did was stay his ass seated.

But they rained down fire and brimstone (actually they rained down snowflakes, but that messes up dramatic effect) on the formal pro football player, prompting him to begin the notorious practice of taking a knee during the anthem; a trend even Jay-Z a.k.a. Sean “We’re Past Kneeling” Carter couldn’t quell. Nah bruh, we still at it.

Advertisement

Former Minnesota Teacher of the Year Kelly D. Holstine decided to carry on the tradition when she took a knee during the anthem at a college football national championship game attended by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

Holstine was named Minnesota Teacher of the Year in May 2018. She was among a number of acclaimed teachers being honored at the game between Louisiana State University and Clemson University in New Orleans on Monday night.

Advertisement

The educator later took to Twitter to speak on it saying she chose to kneel because she had a “platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people.”

“Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, ‘No one is free until we are all free’ (MLK).”

Advertisement

Holstine told the Hill that she knew ahead of time that Trump would be at the game so this was no spontaneous decision.

Advertisement

“I think that the current environment that is being created and has been created in his tenure definitely adds to my feelings of wanting to support individuals who are not being supported,” she said. “I really feel like our country is not serving the needs of all its inhabitants … so many humans right now that are not being given the respect and the rights that they deserve.”

Last year, Holstine was one of two state teachers of the year who boycotted a visit to the White House to meet Trump. She talked about the boycott with the Minneapolis Star Tribune in May.

Advertisement

“I work with a lot of students who face discrimination and prejudice every day of their lives. My frustration with the current administration are the messages and the actions and the policies and the words about the population of students I work with. It impacts them, and it hurts them. It impacts them both in their hearts, and it hurts them in the world because they have to deal with the fallout of all that discrimination.”

Holstine, who now serves as the director of educational equity at Outfront Minnesota, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, was speaking about the work she did at an alternative high school in Shakopee, Minn., where she taught English.

Advertisement

Last week, she delivered a TED-Ed Educator Talk, where she argued that it was “not enough for educators to be just allies, we need them to be advocates too.”

Perhaps this taking the knee was her doing just a little bit of practicing what she preaches.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

Share This Story

Get our newsletter