Cahokia, Illinois is a suburb of St. Louis and one of its youth football teams engaged in a form of protest last weekend. Check out their story in the video below:
This is not about should they or shouldn’t they kneel. There are 1,000 other outlets taking one side or the other where the actual gesture is concerned. This article is about the kids. It’s a terribly overused cliché, but what’s happening in St. Louis right now and our country overall represents a teachable moment.
Kids aren’t stupid. They see what’s going on and they see adult reactions. It’s easy to accuse someone of indoctrinating a kid toward their political bent, but who can answer the hard questions kids ask? There is nothing more heartbreaking or worrying to a caring adult than when a kid asks you if he is going to die.
Your answer had better not be political. The kids on this Cahokia team are predominantly black and some may be afraid for their lives. They watch the news with their parents as most of us did growing up. The St. Louis region has a serious violent crime problem. What do you say to the kid who is afraid of both criminals and crime fighters?
Before you dismiss this as exaggeration, think about the kid in your house who is/was afraid of monsters in their room. How many times did you pretend to be a superhero and destroy all the monsters? How many times did you sleep in the chair or on the floor in your kid’s room to protect them from the monsters? How many times did you just give up and let the kid hop in the bed between you and your spouse so you could get some sleep?
And you did all of that for the kid you love most. You did all of that to ease the child’s mind about something that can never hurt him. What was the Cahokia coach supposed to do? This situation is real and his kids came to him. What would you have done?
It’s also worth noting, in youth football, everyone takes a knee when something is wrong. No matter your position on the issues of police shootings vs. protesting vs. community violence, there is no denying that something is really wrong in our country.