There is a demeaning narrative told in this country when people of color organize protests. One of the most common critiques of the Black Lives Matter movement is that its adherents hurt their own cause by being violent. The BLM  founders explicitly distinguish this violence from their main cause—to call attention to the brutality and injustices that black Americans experience in the United States.

(Take notice: any sort of violence that occurs during these demonstrations by POC is tacked onto the movement’s reputation. Yet the white nationalists that became violent in Charlottesville are separate from the “good people”, according to the President.)

When Colin Kaepernick first chose to kneel for the National Anthem in 2016, he clearly stated that he did so in solidarity with other people of color—a demonstration against institutional racism in the United States. Although he faced heavy criticism, Kaepernick continued to kneel, and other NFL players have joined him.

To many Americans, taking the knee is anti-American, when, in fact, peaceful dissent is about as American as it gets. Taking a knee during the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance is protected in the the Bill of Rights, which plays the most fundamental role in maintaining our fragile democracy.

Those who kneel during the national anthem are not doing so to disrespects the military, the president, or the country. The movement simply began with Kaepernick choosing to do so as a form of peaceful protest against police brutality and the treatment of people of color in the United States. It is not a hateful action and it is not intended to belittle or disrespect any demographic in America. It is simply a motion that was made to protest the racism that has been embedded into American life, from something as small as microaggressions, to something as monumental as killing an unarmed black individual.

Flying the Confederate Flag, on the other hand, is a hateful, anti-American act that disrespects the military, the president, and the country, on top of the entire demographic of black individuals that were weighted down because of it’s origin. There is nothing unconstitutional about kneeling for the national anthem; it is a peaceful form of protest that sends a message and brings attention to the issues that are plaguing the nation.

I will forever wonder why there are still those red flags with blue X’s anywhere in the United States. If the people who justify the use of the symbol were true patriots, they would understand that flying the Confederate Flag is treasonous, disrespectful, and anti-American. They would also understand that kneeling during the National Anthem is a right granted to the American people, and that exercising said right is an integral part of being American.