Colin Kaepernick’s protest spread further and got louder over 9/11 weekend, which was the perfect time, actually

Now that the NFL season is officially kicked off, it looks like Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest is catching on with other players. Even though not all fans are feeling the protest. Kaepernick has been under a lot of scrutiny for choosing to sit out the “Star-Spangled Banner” earlier this month in the name of Black Lives Matter and inequality. On Sunday, some Miami Dolphin players also knelt during the anthem, the Seattle Seahawks all locked arms, and the Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised his fist. Tennessee Titans players Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard and Jason McCourty also locked arms during the anthem.

The message behind their silent protest hasn’t been made “entirely clear” according to Reuters, but that’s not the conversation anyone should be having. The players in protest believe, like Kaepernick and all reasonable humans, that police brutality has to stop. It does. Talking about whether or not the players should be allowed to is not the conversation anyone should be having — actually getting taking about what racism and police brutality is what they want.

Brandon Marshall, a linebacker for the Broncos, also took a knee on Thursday night, setting the tone for the entire NFL season. Marshall said to The Denver Post, “I definitely see what he’s saying. I support him on that. I’m not mad at him for that. Some people are bashing him on the internet, but I’m not bashing him at all. I support him.” Others don’t feel the same way, at all.

Like Kate Upton, who on Twitter called the players protests “unacceptable” yesterday, especially on the anniversary of Sept. 11. Rob Lowe also suggested the players “give it a rest for the day” and “respect the fallen.” Of course, the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks is tough time to stage a protest against the country, but everyone has a right to reflect on how they feel about their country during the “Star-Spangled Banner.” And when you think about it, isn’t 9/11 the perfect time to reflect on what our country should mean and how it should function? Like, maybe 9/11 is a great day to honor the dead by vehemently refusing to ignore the endangered living. It’s possible to honor the victims of the attacks and the veterans that subsequently went to war and believe that there’s still systemic racism throughout the country that has to change. There is no “giving it a rest.”

There is no appropriate time to protest and there is no “perfect” way to protest. If one believes that people have the right to protest, they have the right to protest in whatever they way they choose, even (and maybe especially) on days where the country is also remembering the victims of a terrorist attack. It’s complicated, but the players are right to carry on with their protest, because it means they’re serious about this shit.

There are others joining the protest, too. Like an anonymous U.S. Navy member who posted a video of herself sitting out the anthem and is now having to face, “appropriate administrative actions” for sitting down and posting a video. High school teams, like one in Camden County, New Jersey, that are taking a knee at their football games already. It’s something that is catching on quickly — who knows if Kaepernick knew what he was starting.

There’s also a hashtag circulating about boycotting the NFL because of these protests, which is pretty ironic. I mean, there are NFL players who do lots of terrible things, like assault women, and no one boycotts that. Boycotting because some players want to draw attention to Black Lives Matter (at least) is sort of ridiculous.

How effective the protests will be are another matter, because let’s face it. I don’t think anyone is boycotting the NFL — Americans have a thing for their football. But at least the conversation seems to be starting to change a little bit from fighting about the appropriateness of a protest to maybe acknowledging the actual motivation behind the protests.