what's our knee to take?

It’s been yet another whirlwind week in our country, with the President of the United States of America calling out professional athletes protesting racism in America.

The flames of division continue to rise and rage.

The sides continue to become more polarized.

The crazy train we are on keeps picking up speed.

I could go on about the despair I sometimes feel about our current presidency, but that’s not going to be productive today.

I was just finishing a post on life shifts but put it on the back burner in light of the past few days.

Instead, I keep thinking about how grateful I am for Colin Kaepernick.

His decision to take a knee as a personal protest to acknowledge the realities of systematic oppression of people of color in our country is a gift.

A gift with a big price that he and others will pay.

I know the memes that mock him, the disdain people feel for him, the flak he has taken and will continue to take in an even bigger way now, along with other players who are joining in.

I respect Colin Kapernick for being clear that this is what he needed to do to take a stand against racial injustice.

Yet, I also respect others who aren’t going to take a knee when the national anthem is sung because of their convictions.

Everyone doesn’t have to take a knee in the same way.

One kind of bent knee isn’t better than another.

However, I believe we all have a responsibility to bend our knee–whatever that looks like–as a way of saying publicly:

“I will not just stand by and pretend this isn’t real.”

“I will not join in because I blatantly disagree.”

“I will not make nice to make the powers that be feel better.”

“I will not be silent but instead will use my privilege, power, position, to stand for what I firmly believe.”

Disproportionate power never goes down easy, and the status quo hates to be rocked. Unhealthy systems rarely change on their own. In fact, when they get challenged, look out, because they come out with guns a-blazing.

Change will never, ever(!) happen without the potential disruption of money and power and some kind of core shift in ethical and spiritual convictions.

And that disruption will usually never come without protest, without people taking a knee, of publicly saying “no”, of standing against what we firmly believe is wrong and risking our jobs, money, ego, position, ministries, comfort, for the sake of others.

As a follower of Jesus I have a responsibility to stand against systems of oppression in a tangible way.

And that will always cost something.

My way might look different from your way or the next person’s way, but they are all equally important.

We each have to listen to God on this one, to the stirring in our souls, to gain clarity on what we need to stand (or kneel) for.

This does not mean we are causing division or are filled with anger; rather, it comes from a strong conviction that we must do whatever we can to contribute to change.

Our take a knee can be lots of different things:

Who we publicly stop giving money to (and who we start giving money to instead).

When we bravely and honestly tell leadership why we are leaving instead of just slinking out the back door.

When we take a step to reveal some of our core convictions that aren’t popular in our circles but we know our silence and hiding is not right.

When we speak publicly about the ways the systems or groups are not considering folks on the margins.

When we say “I can’t go there or buy there or give any part of my heart there because of ______________” (and when others say “Geez, can’t you lighten up?” we respond with, “No, on this one, I just can’t.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my take-a-knee might look like in this season. I still can do some of the same things I’ve been doing—refusing to give my time or money or heart to organizations that do not allow for full equality for women and LGBT+ and speaking out against unhealthy power and using my privilege in whatever ways I can to stand alongside the oppressed and marginalized.

I will stand the next time the national anthem is sung because we are a military family and not standing would violate a different thing inside of me.

But I know one thing without a doubt: there’s some other place I’m supposed to take a knee.

Here’s to kneeling.

Here’s to resisting.

Here’s to persisting.

Here’s to sacrificing comfort for the sake of change. 

Here’s to not just defending knees but finding our way to take one.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • a while back, I attempted to email you asking that you please bring to your blogging the racial division that is occurring. Thank you for finding a way to do your part!


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