UCO’s Student Newspaper Hosts Forum for Taking a Stand
Managing Editor Alex Brown, left, and Sports Editor Addam “Suave” Francisco, right, of the Vista, speak to students during the forum ‘Stand for Patriotism, Kneel for Liberty’ on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 in the Mass Communications Building. Those in attendance had the opportunity to discuss the controversy surrounding athletes kneeling during the National Anthem. (Photo from The Vista Twitter.)
An open forum covering Colin Kaepernick’s, 49ers quarterback, protest of the national anthem and its possible effect on the Black Lives Matter movement was hosted by UCO’s The Vista Thursday, Sept. 22.
The forum, entitled “Stand for Patriotism, Kneel for Liberty,” welcomed UCO students and Edmond community members to have an open conversation about Kaepernick’s. On Sept. 1, the football player knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the last exhibition game before the start of the football season.
Alex Brown, Managing Editor of The Vista, and Addam “Suave” Francisco, Sports Editor, led the conversation. Francisco began in Kaepernick’s defense.
“Personally, I don’t believe the national anthem applies to me as a black man,” he said.
Francisco was not alone in his stance. Participants, though few, overwhelmingly seemed to be on Kaepernick’s side.
The first question of the evening was “What was your initial reaction when you first saw Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem?”
General reactions were shock followed by understanding that Kaepernick was protesting the treatment of black people and inequality within America, not America in itself. However, as Teddy Burch, Vista adviser, asked, “is a sport’s game the proper place to demonstrate?” Again, participants were in favor.
Brittany Bell, UCO student, asked, “Is there ever going to be a right place to display something?”
“His[Kaepernick] motive was to start a movement, and I think the movement is working as we speak.” -Destiny, UCO student at #VistaForum2016
— The Vista (@TheVista1903) September 22, 2016
Participants widely believed that a public figure such as Kaepernick was right to take a stand, though no one was sure if he realized the impact that he would have.
According to a poll conducted by E-Poll Marketing Research, Kaepernick was revealed to be the most disliked player in the NFL.
“When a person is brave enough to stand up, especially an African American, not specifically just an African American male, but an African American in general, we’re labeled a troublemaker,” Teresa Francisco said.
The conversation moved on to the bigger picture, focusing on the racial divide in America.
Suave asked if it was possible for the general public to help change the racial issues society deals with. Destiny Reed, UCO student, thought so.
“Even big things have to start in small places,” Reed said.
“White privilege” was a term that came up during the discussion. Queila Omena, Brazilian exchange student, believed that lack of proper education was a cause of these racial problems.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Well, I don’t have a white privilege,’” she said, “and I’m like, ‘You do. You don’t even know you do, but you do.’”
— The Vista (@TheVista1903) September 22, 2016
When Omena first came to America, specifically to Alabama, she had mostly black and Latino friends. When it came time to celebrate her birthday, Omena’s host mother wouldn’t allow her friends to come to the house because she believed they would make the house dirty. Omena didn’t understand the divide and neither did many others in the forum’s attendance.
The topic then turned to fear, including fear from all sides of the problem: of black people, of the police and of losing power, specifically referencing the idea that if someone gains power, someone else has to lose it.
Jarrett Jobe, Executive Director of Student Leadership Programs, said, “It’s kind of like when you’re on the monkey bars, right? You’re holding on as long as you can. Old white America is not ready to give that up.”
As the forum came to a close, participants agreed that listening to different perspectives was enlightening.
“Without this having taken place, without us organizing such a thing, we would have never even come together under the same room, under the same ceiling, if you will, to discuss these ideas,” Burch said.
Burch continued, “To discuss these topics, it is healthy. It is good and it is my belief it needs to continue.” Vista staff hope to hold another forum next month so that the conversation can continue.
Bell supported the idea. “If we just keep sweeping it under the rug,” she said, “things are going to keep happening over and over again.”