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There are any number of opinions, positions, or judgments regarding the current intersection of sports, politics, race and culture. Whether you believe it’s about 1st Amendment rights, respect of flag, police brutality, respect for our military or any other array of ideals, the recent comments leveled by the President of the United States, against players who have decided to take a knee during the national anthem, have been divisive. Donald Trump, in his vulgar rant, has sent more people to their knees both on the field and off, than he likely knows.

Just so we are clear; there is no constitutional requirement to stand during the rendering of the Star Spangled Banner. And no matter how others attempt to co-opt Colin Kaepernick’s motivation for kneeling, in a 2016 interview he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

State Sen. Lena Taylor

Kaepernick decided to do something to call attention to this issue.

In the meantime, we understand that we have scores of issues circling around us at warp speed: North Korea, disaster relief desperately needed in Puerto Rico, the constant struggle to repeal the ACA, Russia’s involvement in US elections, Wisconsin state budget that targeted Milwaukee for harsher treatment than any other city in the state, continued unemployment in disparate numbers in the African-American community, a financially strapped public education system, voter suppression, a draft Department of Justice report outlining discriminatory practices by the Milwaukee Police Department, and more. Therefore, some have asked why we are paying so much attention to the NFL and this issue.

My response: why not?

The beauty in belonging to a community is that we have enough people to work on multiple issues, simultaneously. Whether education, employment, corrections, environmental justice, or health care, there is work to be done. We can argue about priority or what should be tackled first, but the reality is that every area impacts our quality of life. From the football field to the neighborhood block, we have work to do. I want to use Kaepernick’s actions to encourage you to get involved in your area of interest. I implore you to lend your voice and passion to make a difference. If you would like to volunteer and don’t know how to get connected to an organization, call my office at (414) 342-7176.

So many people have already stepped forward to answer the call and are positively calling attention, or changing the landscape. If you are already engaged, thank you for deciding to do something! If you are not, pick an issue, and get to work!

Written by State Sen. Lena Taylor

State Sen. Lena Taylor

Wisconsin State Sen. Lena Taylor represents the 4th State Senate District in Milwaukee.

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