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I’ve only gotten down on my knees as a sign of respect a few times in my life. Once when I asked my fiance to marry me, and the other all involve prayer to God and Christ.

That’s it. It’s my belief that a man should only have to kneel as a gesture during those two times in his life. The American in me screams that kneeling isn’t exactly something I feel comfortable doing at any other time.

Nor should I. This country was founded on never having to kneel. People died to keep that principle in observance. Unless you come down from Heaven on a white steed wearing a blood-drenched robe, if you order, or even ask me to kneel, I’m probably going to laugh at you. It’s likely you’ll get this response from many Americans.

So it bothers me when I see videos like this.

Or stories like these.

(READ: Riverside sheriff takes knee with protesters during what began as peaceful rally to honor George Floyd)

(READ: An LAPD officer takes a knee, to cheers of Hollywood protesters)

You may have noticed that all of these videos have one thing in common. It’s white people kneeling in front of black people in order to earn their forgiveness. Even the one where white people were kneeling in prayer are still kneeling in front of a black crowd to make a show of asking for forgiveness from God, when really it’s a plea of forgiveness to people. I get the sentiment, but it is what it is and can’t be anything else.

A quick aside, the black people of that gathering also knelt in prayer afterward with the white people. All things considered, it’s a touching moment, but it should have been everyone kneeling together in prayer to God from the beginning, not with one group standing over another.

Need I remind my fellow Americans that they are all individuals? Actions that were taken by people in the past who look similar to you or even share your culture are not your responsibility. Just as I don’t hold black people accountable for the actions of their fellow black people, white people should not hold themselves at fault for the wrongs done to the black community. Unless you have actively gone out and attempted to harm a black individual or the black community at large, then you are guiltless of racism or crime of any sort. Period.

You don’t owe an explanation, you don’t owe operations, nor do you need to feel like you should harbor some sort of guilt.

Furthermore, it’s my firm belief that law enforcement should not be getting down on their knees either. What the LAPD officer did was wrong to do. Not only does the rule of individualism apply to him, but he sets a bad precedent for law enforcement officers who may now be required to kneel if they want the destruction to stop. This is a dangerous game to play, and officers everywhere should stand on their feet. This isn’t to say that officers shouldn’t sympathize with protesters and even protest with them.

In fact, here’s Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson doing exactly what should be done. He makes it clear that George Floyd’s murderer doesn’t represent the entirety of the police community, makes it clear that they’re there to serve and protect, and then walks with the protesters in solidarity. It’s a beautiful moment.

The difference here is that in this moment, Swanson gained respect for his entire community. He walked with his community, he didn’t kneel in front of them. Dignity was kept all around and he made he and his police department one of the people, not above or below them.

Let’s remember that this isn’t a country where we’re automatically a part of some group despite the best efforts by a lot of social forces to make us so. It’s up to you to use your voice to make a change, but rest assured, your voice diminishes the lower you sink, even in the eyes of the one’s you’re kneeling to.

Get off your knees.

Brandon Morse
Senior Editor. Culture critic, and video creator. Good at bad photoshops.
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