October 10, 2017 10:11:59 AM
Local Support for Athletes' Actions
The Progressive Starkville Network, a group with nearly 500 local members, stands in support of the members of SHS's girls' volleyball team who recently chose to peacefully advocate for racial justice and equality by kneeling for the National Anthem during their game against New Hope.
PSN affirms the perspective of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, which states, "students must first know that school is a safe place where they can learn to amplify their voices courageously and constructively. They need to be empowered to have those conversations now so those skills are well practiced when they participate in a democracy and ultimately lead their future.... None of this happens when schools teach a ritual compliance, even when prompted by a well-meaning respect. Compliance, after all, is a skill in little demand for 21st-century success."
We are dismayed with some local responses to these girls' actions online and in social media. We are disheartened that angry and hateful comments have been thrown at these local high school students. The anger and hatred this simple action has incurred is not equal to the action itself. An outpouring of anger toward peaceful advocacy for equal treatment for all Americans indeed proves the necessity of such actions in our nation today. We must re-frame our way of seeing these actions not as disrespect--not as students fighting against something, but as young Americans fighting FOR something they feel deeply. These girls are our neighbors. If someone willingly draws negative attention to themselves for what they believe to be a wrong, maybe we owe them, not hatred, but an ear. We owe it to each other to pause, to ask "why?" and to listen to the response.
The Progressive Starkville Network is proud to see young voices speaking out to bring attention to the social justice issues in our country and community, and for having the courage to use what little power high school students have to bring light to very real issues. "They have expressed a desire to use this as a tool to create dialogue about real issues, not an avenue to further division. They want to be heard and understood, " says PSN member, Aries Spruell. Perhaps it is time for adults to listen.
Rowan Haug on behalf of PSN
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