High School Cheerleaders Now Kneeling During National Anthem

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/12/02/high-school-cheerleaders-now-kneeling-during-national-anthem/

An ethnic studies class helped lead two African-American cheerleaders at a high school in northern California to start kneeling during the national anthem before football games, even as football players at the school remain standing.

Sasha Armbrester and Teana Boston became convinced that the United States isn’t really a free country.

“We took the same ethnic studies class, which made us both think hard about American history — through a black lens,” Armbrester said in a Youth Radio story produced by National Public Radio.

Armbrester narrated the story for NPR while also interviewing other students at her school in Union City, California.

“We learned about suffering and that sometimes history isn’t even history,” Armbrester said. “I was 10 when Trayvon Martin was shot, and the man who killed him didn’t even go to jail.”

Martin was a 17-year-old shot and killed in February 2012 by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, who is one-quarter Afro-Peruvian, during a scuffle in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator who had reported Martin to police as suspicious, claimed self-defense and was acquitted by a jury.

Armbrester says in the story that her friend Boston occasionally sings “The Star Spangled Banner” at professional sporting events by invitation, but that she has subsequently become troubled by the lyrics. She recently wrote a remix of the anthem highlighting violence against blacks.

“I did my research on what I was really singing about, and I have to realize that it’s not the land of the free really, like, at all. So we have to not just say, yeah, freedom, yeah,” Boston said.

Fans and coaches have given the girls heat about kneeling because they find it disrespectful.

“They got mad and said that we can’t be doing that. But I was like, ‘I’m still doing it. I don’t care’,” another cheerleader, Jada McMurry, said in the story.

Armbrester noted that cheerleaders aren’t usually seen as agents of social change.

“I think us taking a knee came as a surprise to people, because a lot of people in the school think of cheerleaders as airheads. They think we’re oblivious to what’s going on in the world,” she said. “But they’re wrong. I got into cheerleading because I wanted to be a role model at my high school.”