Earlier this season, four players from the Miami Dolphins made headlines when they knelt during the National Anthem. According to VOA News, the protests started when Colin Kaepernick, a backup quarterback for San Francisco, took a knee while the Star Spangled Banner played before a preseason game. Kaepernick’s reasons for kneeling, VOA news reports, to raise awareness about the continuous oppression of blacks and minorities in the U.S. While some respect his actions and commend him for taking a stand in this way, others disagree. It’s been a topic for discussion and debate since it happened, and whether people find it offensive or admirable, one thing is certain: Kaepernick is getting the conversation started, which has been his – and others’ – goal all along. These men used their statuses as professional athletes to make a statement, in a very public setting, to spark a discussion about relevant issues that many have chosen to ignore.
This is definitely something to consider: every so often, celebrities or professional athletes use their positions to take a stand on something they feel passionate about. They’re aware of the influence they have, of the fact that their voices can reach millions, and they take the opportunity to advocate for change.
Colin Kaepernick showed us that even the smallest actions can spark important discussions that lead to serious change. We all have the power to make a difference – it’s just a matter of choosing how we want to start the conversation. But most of us aren’t famous celebrities or highly-paid athletes. Many of us would fear losing our jobs if we used our position as a means to promote issues we feel strongly about. Celebrities are more inclined to take a stand on hotbutton issues, since their livelihood is more likely to survive a fallout. As a society we give a pass to people like Kaepernick, who some view as disrespectful, whereas the person in the office next to us couldn’t “get away” with similar behavior. We aren’t all in a position to start a national coversation, so be inspired by people like Kaepernick, but be aware and tactful while spreading your message at work.
We can start meaningful conversations no matter who we are, or what we do for a living. For those of us in an office, we can choose to support missions that mean a lot to us- but choose carefully and keep polarizing activities out of the office. For example, if global warming is something you’re passionate about, you could start a recycling plan at work, or attempt to have your workplace go green. Caution on ultra hot-button topics like elections. I think we are all painfully aware that those conversations are better saved for outside the office.