The next step: Make something happen

  • Thursday, September 22, 2016 5:53pm
  • Opinion

So, what comes next?

The protest started during the NFL’s preseason by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers has made its way to Alaska, as six players from West High School in Anchorage took a knee during the national anthem last weekend prior to their football game against South Anchorage, as reported by KTVA television.

While the student-athletes were not able to comment on what they were protesting — the school’s principal denied KTVA’s request to interview the players — Kaepernick and other NFL players who have followed his lead have said they are attempting to draw attention to issues of social and racial inequality across the country.

As protests go, quietly taking a knee during the anthem may be one the most respectful forms of dissent we’ve seen. Protestors have not disrupted any ceremonies, nor have they defaced the flag in any way.

However, the flag is a powerful symbol in this country, and the protest has generated significant outrage. As the initial shock has worn off, the conversation is beginning to shift toward the issues being protested, and there is certainly room for discussion of social justice here in Alaska, for example, around the state’s legacy of its treatment of Alaska Natives, among other issues.

We’re glad those discussions are taking place. Whether it be conversations at the dinner table, in schools, or in other gathering places, drawing awareness to an issue — prejudice, suicide, domestic violence, drug use — is the first step in overcoming the challenge.

The next step is taking those conversations and turning them into actions that make our community a more positive place.

Here’s what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said about the protests, as reported by the Associated Press: “I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change their community. We don’t live in a perfect society. We want them to use their voice. And they’re moving from protest to progress and trying to make things happen in communities.

“I think where they’re moving and how they’re moving there is very productive and we’re going to encourage that.”

Certainly NFL players have more resources at their disposal to effect change than the typical high school student, with charitable foundations and outreach organizations at their disposal.

But one of the many lessons we hope that students learn through their participation in co-curricular activities is leadership, and there is an opportunity to use that skill. There are people in our own community who are in need; what can we do to help? Organize a fundraiser or food drive? Volunteer with one of the many local non-profits? Donate your time, money or talents? Maybe just practice random acts of kindness?

We’d like to take Goodell’s sentiments and turn them into a challenge for both those who support the protest and those who don’t: Try to make something happen in your community. Because at the end of the day, making our community a better place to live should be a common goal.

More in Opinion

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

t
Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Down to the wire: Be prepared before you vote

Remember your voice counts and all votes matter