By Monica Rodriguez | Reporter
On Monday afternoon, Baylor’s Diversity and Inclusion program held a THIS Matters forum called “Patriotism, Protest and Pro-Athletes,” where eight panelists gave their take on the highly controversial “Take a Knee” political movement currently taking the political and sports world by storm.
The movement, started by former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during a game’s national anthem over a year ago. Kaepernick has since inspired several different professional athletes and NFL teams to do the same. However, various NFL owners and even President Donald Trump have offered their own different opinions towards the political stance.
As the forum began, the panelists included several Baylor students, professors and faculty. The meeting was held in the Barfield Drawing Room and more than 40 people were in attendance. The discussion opened with a disclaimer letting the audience know that the area would be a safe space for anyone to be able to voice their opinions and thoughts.
Each panelist was then asked a couple of broad questions pertaining to their own beliefs such as “What does Patriotism mean to you?” and “What does patriotic protest look like?”
With each answer, a different perspective was offered to attendees on how every individual panelist felt about the topic.
Mandy Hinshaw, Waco senior and a Veteran, brought up a discussion on the fact of whether or not political protests are as effective as many make them out to be.
“A lot of history has been accomplished due to protests,” Hinshaw said. “But it is almost like nowadays, people are protesting just to protest…we should be focusing our attention on more educated discussions to help come up with more solutions.”
Elise Edwards, a lecturer in the Baylor Religion Department, countered Hinshaw’s opinion saying that protests are meant to gain the public’s attention and make people uncomfortable.
“There’s two parts to having an effective protest,” Edwards said. “Getting noticed and then getting change. Just like the Boston Tea Party, the NFL protest is to raise awareness for the unfair violence people have received in this country.”
After the panel was done voicing their different viewpoints, the audience was encouraged to get into small groups with provided peer leaders and come up with questions that furthered the rest of the discussion.
These questions were more specific such as “How do you change the narrative from being offended to answering the questions “why?” and “What Christ-like attitude should people have towards protestors?”
At the end of the forum, students were invited to continue coming to discussions like Monday’s panel to help raise awareness within the Baylor community about important national issues.
THIS Matters events are held throughout the school year depending on topics seen fit for open discussion within the community. To get more involved within the Diversity and Inclusion program or to share ideas on how to improve Baylor’s campus, contact Dean for Student Development in the Division of Student Life, Dr. Elizabeth Palacios.