Former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem at the start of NFL games has been a divisive topic for many across the nation. That controversy came to UVa’s own Scott Stadium.
Kaepernick knelt as an act of peaceful protest against the injustices black people face in America. He specifically sought to oppose police brutality and the failure to hold officers accountable for the murder of unarmed African-Americans in the country. This protest has been repeated by many football teams and has taken on several forms with some linking arms as a show of solidarity with fellow players.
While some praise this act as a peaceful form of protest, critics argue that the national anthem is a time in which everyone must stand. Opposition also argues that a football game is not the place for protest.
On Saturday October 7th, a group of UVa students mostly consisting of Black Student Alliance members, decided to bring Kaepernick’s protest to Scott Stadium.
The students stood out, dressed in all black while carrying signs as they silently marched to Scott.
Kajsa Fosky, a UVa student on the BSA Political Action Committee, participated in the protest and helped coordinate it.
“Personally when I think of football games, I think of a time where people go to let loose and have fun and celebrate UVa,” Fosky said.
“I just felt that while other students are able to have that time, as being a black student [racial inequality] is constantly on my mind.”
Fosky expressed her frustration with the underrepresentation of black students at UVa.
“I’m reminded everyday when I walk past Confederate plaques and the buildings that were built by slaves. I’m reminded everyday when I sit in my classes filled with white professors and white students while there are maybe only two other black students in the class,” she continued.
“I feel like I’m reminded of these things everyday and I think other students need to be reminded as well.”
UVa has made efforts to create a more diverse student body but many believe they have fallen short. The black student body at UVa remains significantly out of proportion when compared to the racial population in the state of Virginia. Black students are drastically underrepresented.
Fosky went on to discuss what the university can do in order to take a step in the right direction.
“We want living wages for the workers here in Charlottesville. We want more black faculty teaching and obtaining administrative positions. We want the proportion of black students here to be at least, somewhat proportionate to the black population of the state,” she elaborated.
Kajsa Fosky reiterated these measures, which are included in the list of demands of the “March to Reclaim our Grounds.” The list of demands was created as a response to the white nationalist rallies that took place on grounds on August 11.
When asked about the reactions the group of protestors received from people attending the game, Fosky responded: “When we were walking some people noticed because we had signs so they wanted to read the signs. At the game, some people noticed, some didn’t say anything, and some people came over and asked what this was all about. Some guy came over and said ‘I agree with this, I just don’t think this is the right time.'”
Fosky believes that having a conversation about the topic itself has an impact.
“While the flag and the anthem can represent the great things America has to offer it also does represent what America is and this country definitely has some issues that need to be worked out,” she continued.
“To highlight these issues isn’t to say I don’t love this place or to say that this place hasn’t offered me great things because it has. UVa has offered me great things but it can do more and I think it is important to recognize that.”