I’m proud to be an American fencing champion. Here’s why I knelt for our anthem.

  
Via:  john-russell  •  2 weeks ago  •  31 comments

I’m proud to be an American fencing champion. Here’s why I knelt for our anthem.
I’ve been honored to represent my country in international competition, and each time I hear our national anthem played, it’s a moment of personal pride. I love my country, full stop. When I look around, though, I see racial injustice, sexism, hate-inspired violence and scapegoating of immigrants.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


I’m proud to be an American fencing champion. Here’s why I knelt for our anthem.


It’s time that athletes like me — white, male, privileged — start speaking out for justice.


Four days ago in Lima, Peru, I stood at the top of an awards podium with my teammates and received a gold medal for fencing in the 2019 Pan American Games. The room wasn’t crowded, there weren’t all that many cameras flashing, and there certainly weren’t millions of fans tuned in to watch us from back home — I love my sport, but we fencers know we don’t draw the same audience as football, soccer, boxing or track and field.


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But at the podium, my palms wet from nerves, when the “Star-Spangled Banner” began to play, I took a knee — following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith: black, LGBT, female and Muslim athletes who chose to take a stand. I’m not a household name like those heroes, but as an athlete representing my country and, yes, as a privileged white man, I believe it is time to speak up for American values that my country seems to be losing sight of.


I’ve been honored to represent my country in international competition, and each time I hear our national anthem played, it’s a moment of personal pride. I love my country, full stop. When I look around, though, I see racial injustice, sexism, hate-inspired violence and scapegoating of immigrants. This isn’t new, but it feels like it’s getting worse, and after the mass killings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, I wanted to use that moment on the podium to send a message that things have to change.


And I believe that speaking up and demanding this change isn’t just the responsibility of women and minorities. It’s time that those of us privileged enough not to be personally targeted by this kind of hate, whether we’re athletes or not, start speaking out.


Carlos and Smith were  suspended  from competition; Ali was stripped of his titles and  almost sent to prison ; Kaepernick was blacklisted from the NFL; Rapinoe was  singled out  for criticism by the president. They used their platforms to demand that their country do better, sometimes at great personal sacrifice. So, before I took a knee, I asked myself the same question that a lot of people have tweeted and emailed me in the past few days:  Who is this white guy and why does he think he’s earned the right to talk about sacrifice?


Good question.


I’m a privileged, white male athlete. I’ve worked hard to succeed in my sport and represent the United States on the world’s biggest stages. I’m a world champion like Rapinoe and an Olympic medalist like Ali, Carlos and Smith. But I’m not a sports icon. Even as I risk my life’s work and the thing that brings me true joy — Pan-Am Games rules prohibit political demonstrations — I recognize that to many, my sacrifice doesn’t compare to others’ who’ve spoken out before. And I understand why. Before I knelt, though, I thought about the responsibility I have.


I hoped to speak to my small group of followers on social media and maybe change a few minds. I hoped that if a few of those who respect me as a competitor thought about the risk I was taking by bending the rules a year before the Olympics, they might reflect on the urgent need to begin healing some of the division in our world.


I’ve received a lot of criticism, and a lot of support as well. My Twitter timeline and my inbox have been flooded with messages of support and love from people who were thankful that I spoke up. And I’m thankful that  my message  was heard: “Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of problems that need to be addressed. It’s my version of the message sent by Kaepernick. And it’s pretty much the same message sent by my Pan-Am Games teammate, Gwen Berry, when she raised her fist after winning the hammer throw competition.


In my case, though, you didn’t see a superstar. You didn’t see a woman or minority athlete speaking up. Instead, you saw a white man you never heard of before, in a sport you may not know anything about.


For some Americans, this time, maybe you saw yourself. Someone who looks like you, kneeling there on a podium, calling for change. A lot of people have expressed disgust and hatred, confused that someone like me, of all people, would take a knee during the anthem:  You must want attention. You’re an overprivileged snowflake.  Suddenly, some people saw me in the light that they see women, people of color and LGBT Americans in. Suddenly, some people felt entitled to label me and strip me of my individuality. But I didn’t speak up to promote myself. I spoke up, I hope, for the same reasons that athletes who’ve come before me did. I want my country to change. And I want people who look like me to start coming to terms with this reality: Even if we can’t fully identify with the challenges that minorities sometimes face, or haven’t experienced the kind of attacks that they’ve faced, we owe it to our country to use the privilege we have to fight for what is right.

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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

Will the president* respect this young man's freedom of speech?  He's a "real" American, so maybe. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

I t's not what the President will say or do:

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Imboden’s protest violated guidelines that prevent its athletes from partaking in political demonstrations.

“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature,” the committee said in a statement Saturday. “In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC.”

USOPC said it will determine whether Imboden — who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics — will be disciplined for the act.

https://nypost.com/2019/08/11/olympic-fencer-may-be-disciplined-for-taking-a-knee-on-podium/


Let's see if the US Olymic Committee will enforce it's own rules?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
1.1.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1    2 weeks ago

He knew it wasn't "allowed".  Thats sort of the point of doing it. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.1    2 weeks ago
Thats sort of the point of doing it. 

You mean it felt good to denounce the US in a foreign country?  It felt good to defy the Committee?  I think the descendants of the anti-war protesters from the late 60's think this is somehow courageous. It's always been the way to get notoriety for scum. There is probably a drug addicted grandpa at home, who is so proud of this moron.

 
 
 
TTGA
1.1.3  TTGA  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.1    2 weeks ago
He knew it wasn't "allowed".  Thats sort of the point of doing it. 

Then he pays the price.  That's definitely the point of having the rule in the first place.  To put it another way, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time".

 
 
 
r.t..b...
1.1.4  r.t..b...  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.2    2 weeks ago
You mean it felt good to denounce the US in a foreign country? 

It doesn't feel good at all to acknowledge there is systemic inequality in our country. He used his platform to shine light on that injustice, at potential personal cost. It was his effort to foster discussion, a necessary discussion that someday may lead to meaningful change in how we treat our fellow citizens. That is actually a most patriotic thing to do. 

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
1.1.5  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.1    2 weeks ago
He knew it wasn't "allowed".  Thats sort of the point of doing it.

Perhaps, but he defined it better when he wrote this:

I love my sport, but we fencers know we don’t draw the same audience as football, soccer, boxing or track and field.

So...he stole the spotlight from the 1st and 2nd place winners, and made the awards ceremony all about himself.  Here he is writing about it, and here I am, commenting about it.  Just like Colin WhatsHisNuts, it was a selfish and asshole-ish move.  

 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.1.6  Vic Eldred  replied to  r.t..b... @1.1.4    2 weeks ago
It doesn't feel good at all to acknowledge there is systemic inequality in our country.

Ya, right!

 He used his platform to shine light on that injustice

Injustice?  No country has done so much for equality! It's why everyone is coming here - in droves!!!

It was his effort to foster discussion, a necessary discussion that someday may lead to meaningful change in how we treat our fellow citizens.

Nope, he thinks he's a little hero at the expense of the US.

That is actually a most patriotic thing to do. 

Absolutely not!

 
 
 
JohnRussell
1.1.7  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @1.1.5    2 weeks ago

So...he stole the spotlight from the 1st and 2nd place winners

I dont think that is exactly true.   It was a team award.   That is why you see three guys from each of the three winning countries (gold silver and bronze) on the podium. 

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
1.1.8  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.7    2 weeks ago
I dont think that is exactly true.   It was a team award.

Without looking, name one of the other two team members.

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
1.1.9  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @1.1.8    2 weeks ago
Without looking, name one of the other two team members.

Neal and Bob

 
 
 
JohnRussell
1.1.10  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @1.1.8    2 weeks ago
Without looking, name one of the other two team members

Are you kidding? I cant even name him without looking. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
1.1.11  Tacos!  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1.1.9    one week ago
Neal and Bob

I would have assumed Neal was the guy on the floor.

 
 
 
squiggy
1.2  squiggy  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

If he’s that good, send him to McAllen.

 
 
 
Citizen Kane-473667
2  Citizen Kane-473667    2 weeks ago

It's the only way this snowflake was getting any attention. Face it, you could be the Master Fencing Champion of the World and still nobody would know your name. Now he gets his 15 minutes of fame, and maybe Nike will give him a job since no one else will.....

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
2.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Citizen Kane-473667 @2    2 weeks ago

Do you remember the asshole on the woman's soccer team?  She and her bitter face will vanish into obscurity now.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1    2 weeks ago
Do you remember the asshole on the woman's soccer team?  She and her bitter face will vanish into obscurity now.

Not if she keeps playing soccer. 

 
 
 
Citizen Kane-473667
2.1.2  Citizen Kane-473667  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1    2 weeks ago
She and her bitter face will vanish into obscurity now.

She already had...

It's the only REAL reason these athletes are doing this shit in the first place--for the publicity to boost there lack-luster careers. Kapernick was riding the bench, Now he's riding Nike's face.

 
 
 
TTGA
2.2  TTGA  replied to  Citizen Kane-473667 @2    2 weeks ago
maybe Nike will give him a job since no one else will.

Not if they want to sell any shoes, they won't.

 
 
 
MrFrost
2.3  MrFrost  replied to  Citizen Kane-473667 @2    2 weeks ago
Face it, you could be the Master Fencing Champion of the World and still nobody would know your name. Now he gets his 15 minutes of fame, and maybe Nike will give him a job since no one else will.....

You sound incredibly jealous. Are you nationally known? Gold medalist? Anything like that? Likely not. 

 
 
 
Citizen Kane-473667
2.3.1  Citizen Kane-473667  replied to  MrFrost @2.3    2 weeks ago
Are you nationally known?

Yes I am in my field of work...internationally actually. Also Nationally and Internationally now thanks to Newsvine and Newstalker too as a author/blogger. Also Nationally and Internationally known for my reveiws on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google and others as a Reviewer of many places of National and International interest.  Oh, and did I mention my Facebook Page too? Yep, I'm known all over...but you won't see me pissing on our Veteran's or the Flag to boost my fan base like these idiots are doing!

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
3  Sean Treacy    2 weeks ago

Cool. I hope he gives back any tax money he received. 

He's already a liar, be a shame to take money from a government he believes is evil. That'd make him a real scumbag.

 
 
 
Tacos!
4  Tacos!    2 weeks ago
When I look around, though, I see racial injustice, sexism, hate-inspired violence and scapegoating of immigrants. This isn’t new, but it feels like it’s getting worse

Oh, my feels!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. 

Well, anyway, your feelings are wrong, kid. All of those things aren't getting worse. On the contrary, they are far better - i.e. there is less of them - than at any time in human history. This is particularly so in the United States of America. This is also true in many places around the world as a direct result of the influence of the United States. You're welcome, Planet Earth. Maybe try studying the history of these things instead of just watching cable news or YouTube and going by the feels they generate.

start speaking out

By all means, speak up to improve things in our society, laws, etc. Go for it. I'm right there with ya on that. But most people don't tune into sports for that, and shit like this irritates most sport fans in the moment . . . just so ya know.

I hoped to . . . maybe change a few minds.

About what? Simply kneeling doesn't tell anybody anything that might change their minds, except that maybe you care more about your own agenda than the agenda of everyone who showed up, tuned in to watch, or donated money for a sporting event.

If you love this country so much, then stand tall and proud for it. And when you get home, go talk to your city council, state legislature, or federal representatives about improving things you care about. Because for now, whatever message you hoped to communicate has been overshadowed by the manner in which you chose to express it.

 
 
 
It Is ME
5  It Is ME    2 weeks ago

" I’m a privileged, white male athlete. I’ve worked hard to succeed in my sport"

Apparently, only White Males can succeed on their own ? jrSmiley_89_smiley_image.gif

Always "I", "I", "I" with these "Priviledged White Males". Sheeeeesh ! jrSmiley_90_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Ronin2
6  Ronin2    2 weeks ago
For some Americans, this time, maybe you saw yourself. Someone who looks like you, kneeling there on a podium, calling for change. A lot of people have expressed disgust and hatred, confused that someone like me, of all people, would take a knee during the anthem: You must want attention. You’re an overprivileged snowflake. Suddenly, some people saw me in the light that they see women, people of color and LGBT Americans in. Suddenly, some people felt entitled to label me and strip me of my individuality.

Sorry, he stripped his individuality from himself. He labeled himself a "privileged white male athlete". No, I don't see myself in him. I look like a white male, I act like a white male; but if I went by my blood lines I could declare myself any one of a number of minorities. Maybe he should look at his past. I bet he could identify white males that didn't fit in, loners that were made that way by society standards. That were picked on abused, or if they were really lucky just flat out ignored.  Acting like being a white male is an automatic advantage is complete BS. Take it from someone that was that person that never fit in no matter how hard I tried. Like so many others he makes the mistake of using a wide paint brush to paint everyone into categories that do not fit.

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
7  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh    2 weeks ago

Looks like this guy kneels often after playing with swords.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
7.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @7    2 weeks ago

Do they play the national anthem while he's doing it? 

 
 
 
It Is ME
7.2  It Is ME  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @7    2 weeks ago
Looks like this guy kneels often after playing with swords.

What he Really Meant : "I thought I was there to be knighted" !

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
7.2.1  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  It Is ME @7.2    2 weeks ago
knighted

Isn't that were they get smacked by the sword on both cheeks?

 
 
 
It Is ME
7.2.2  It Is ME  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @7.2.1    2 weeks ago

They call it a "Touch". jrSmiley_91_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
BeastOfTheEast
8  BeastOfTheEast    2 weeks ago

"I'm not a household name" I had to take a knee so everyone would know me. I didn't do it to protest anything, I did it to draw attention to myself.

 
 
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