A Louisiana superintendent is now among those on growing list of public figures who fail to realize the true reasoning behind the widespread #TakeTheKnee protest against racial injustice targeting people of color.
In a letter that made its’ rounds on social media, Bossier Parish schools head Scott Smith stated that players in his district will “stand in solidarity when the national anthem is played at sporting events” or be disciplined.
Supporting the flawed narrative that taking a knee during the anthem is a sign of disrespect toward the flag and active military, Smith mandated that the district’s student athletes stand “in honor of” the sacrifices made by members of the military.
“Freedom is not free,” he wrote in the letter. “Each day the men and women at Barksdale Air Force Base and in other branches of the military in Bossier Parish and throughout the nation don a uniform and put their lives at risk as they proudly serve and protect us with honor. The least Bossier Schools can do is expect our student athletes to stand in solidarity when the National Anthem is played at sporting events in honor of those sacrifices.”
Currently, there is no set consequence for student athletes who go against the policy. The public school administrator is leaving it up to individual coaches and faculty to determine how they will handle the matter. At least one high school from the district has said that students who don’t stand could forfeit playing.
In closing the letter, Smith adamntly rejected the idea that students being able to particiapte in school sports is a student “right,” rather than a choice provided by the school.
“It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right,” he wrote in closing. “And we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans.”
Unfortunately, the superintendent failed to address the real reason Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee. Much like the misguided sentiments expressed by Donald Trump that prompted the #TakeTheKnee protest to expand last weekend, Smith’s student-athlete mandate makes it clear that the topic of the mistreatment of Black Americans is one that continues to be left out of the conversation for many across the country.