Colin Kaepernick has become the face of protests in the 21st century. The former NFL quarterback began kneeling during the national anthem as a way to "to raise awareness of racism, social injustice and police brutality against 'black people and people of color,'" per The New York Times.
Kaepernick's strategy spread through the NFL and even to high school sports teams. In doing so, these athletes prove that Kap's protest strategy works.
Many people feel that kneeling or sitting during the national anthem is unpatriotic, making it an unethical form of protest. But Kaepernick used his stage to demonstrate peacefully–and to challenge the country to be better–which many feel is the ultimate form of patriotism. Kaepernick's then-teammate, Eric Reid soon joined Kap's protest. Reid explains in The New York Times that:
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.
There is a point where protests go too far. Huge respect should be given to those who choose peaceful forms of protest for worthy causes, but when those protests disrespect other people or groups, they've crossed a line.
During Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation process, protesters reportedly harassed senators after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was even harassed by protesters at the airport–clearly taking dangerous steps towards invading a public figure's personal life. According to USA Today's Thomas Novelly, McConnell commented:
'I want to make it clear to these people who are chasing my members around the hall here, or harassing them at the airports, or going to their homes...We will not be intimidated by these people. There is no chance in the world that they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty. I don’t care how many members they chase, how many people they harass here in the halls. I want to make one thing perfectly clear: we will not be intimidated....'
Publishing public figures' addresses, visiting their homes, and yes, following them, does not accomplish anything. Protests that teeter on harassment or violence cross the line.
Some people argue that criticizing forms of protest is a way to suppress voices. As HuffPost's Francis Maxwell puts it:
You could be sitting, standing, walking, running, laughing, crying, or even be a mannequin as a form of protest, but for right wing conservatives there will never be a 'right' way to protest when you are either a person of color, or when the subject matter does not what they feel represents America.
If a protest is peaceful, there's no reason it should be labeled as wrong or unethical. These labels only further the need for protests in the first place.
Tiffany Haddish announced that she would be protesting police brutality against black people by wearing a fur vest every day, eliciting a response from PETA. Complex's Jose Martinez reported that after Haddish acquired a fur vest from a fan, she commented:
'I'm going to wear fur every day until they stop killing black people,' Haddish said. 'When the police stop killing black people, I'll stop wearing fur. It's my new protest. So sorry PETA. Don't be mad at me, be mad at the police.'
'We love you, Tiffany, and as an animal rights organization, we advocate for and believe in kindness towards all, including animals...We hope that you choose to protest in a different way that doesn't harm any humans or any animals, but is kind to all.'
Many people feel that Haddish's protest pits two unrelated issues against each other.
Even so, others feel that no matter how she puts it, Haddish is using her platform to draw attention to an all-important issue. As Essence's Avon Dorsey points out:
With fur continuing to be a controversial debate in fashion, many celebrities and public figures are often targeted by animal-rights organizations and have either had their fur items defaced or publicly mocked and scrutinized. Therefore, in calling out PETA not to protest her new fur jacket, Haddish unwittingly raises the following question to her 4.4 million followers: Do Black lives matter less than animal lives?