Talonette takes a knee to ‘take a stand’ in National Anthem controversy

In+this+digitally+constructed+image%2C+junior++Karolina+Rubio+kneels+during+the+National+Anthem+and+dances+during+halftime.+Rubio+performs+with+the+Talonettes+at+halftime+at+football+games+and+has+been+on+the+Talonettes+since+her+freshman+year.+%22To+anyone+out+there+who+wants+to+take+a+knee+and+take+a+stand+against+the+injustices+in+our+country%2C+I+say+absolutely+go+for+it+because+it%27s+something+that+needs+to+be+done%2C%22+Rubio+said.+%22There+will+be+people+who+fight+back%2C+but+ignore+them+and+keep+doing+what+you%27re+doing+and+standing+up+for+what+you+believe.%22

Morgan Reese

In this digitally constructed image, junior Karolina Rubio kneels during the National Anthem and dances during halftime. Rubio performs with the Talonettes at halftime at football games and has been on the Talonettes since her freshman year. “To anyone out there who wants to take a knee and take a stand against the injustices in our country, I say absolutely go for it because it’s something that needs to be done,” Rubio said. “There will be people who fight back, but ignore them and keep doing what you’re doing and standing up for what you believe.”

By Morgan Reese, Prosper High School

When the crowd stands as the first note of the “National Anthem” rings throughout the stadium, Talonette and junior Karolina Rubio drops to her knees.

Despite the disapproving whispers, she said she just kept smiling, with the belief that this small action could help bring about the change the Black Lives Matter movement has been seeking.

After the death of George Floyd this past May, the Black Lives Matter movement has exploded across the country with protests, riots, and social media blackouts. Many students have expressed their support of the movement through social media and protests, but Rubio has taken her activism a step further by kneeling during the National Anthem at the high school football games she performs at. Rubio is an active supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, and said she believes in solving injustice through peaceful protesting.

“With all of the racial tension that’s going on with minorities pushing back against systemic racism and with the protests going on, I felt like I needed to do something as a minority myself,” Rubio said. “For me, that was kneeling during the National Anthem.”

While he cannot speak to the issues surrounding Rubio’s protest, assistant principal John Boehringer said laws and policies are in place to support students who wish to peacefully protest and practice their constitutional rights.

In a screenshot of the comment section of junior Karolina Rubio’s post, a student leaves a comment against her actions. Rubio received backlash in the Instagram comment section of her most recent posts. “I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it was,” Rubio said. “It was eye-awakening and very scary.”

“Prosper High School encourages all students to exercise their First Amendment rights,” administrator John Boehringer said. “A student may always engage in non-disruptive protest activities. The Tinker vs. Des Moines case has long established that ‘students do not shed their constitutional rights of freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’ A student may engage in a protest action or a protected speech action, provided that it does not create a disruption to the school environment. I encourage all of our students to know and exercise their constitutional rights, and I’m always available to discuss these issues if students have questions.”

While Boehringer said students are free to exercise their First Amendment rights, he believes students should consider the effects after high school when they make the choice to kneel or peacefully protest.

“I would remind all students that what gets posted online tends to exist for a long time,” Boehringer said. “A student engaging in a protest-speech action in a public venue is likely to be photographed and even named, online. This could lead to associations, positive or negative, for that student far down the road in their future if a future college, employer, date or other party were to search for information about them online.”

A few members of the Talonettes have expressed their support for Rubio’s peaceful protest.

“It’s her right to do it. The real people at fault are the people that commented or direct messaged her hateful stuff on Instagram and did downright disgusting things,” freshman Talonette Kalila Beak said. “Prosper should be showing positivity and supporting each other.”

In a screenshot of a student’s Snapchat story, Karolina Rubio kneels during the National Anthem. Rubio received backlash on Snapchat stories. “It made me very anxious knowing that there are people that feel this strongly against me,” Rubio said. “I was terrified that they would come and hurt me in person.”

As with any controversial statement, Rubio received backlash from her peers on multiple social media platforms.

“I knew that I go to a predominantly white school with ideals are predominantly conservative, so I knew I was going to face some backlash,” Rubio said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it was. It made me very anxious knowing that there are people that feel this strongly against me. I was terrified that they would come and hurt me in person. It was eye-awakening and very scary.”

Despite the backlash, Rubio does not plan to stop.

“To anyone out there who wants to take a knee and take a stand against the injustices in our country, I say absolutely go for it because it’s something that needs to be done,” Rubio said. “There will be people who fight back, but ignore them and keep doing what you’re doing and standing up for what you believe.”

This story was originally published on Eagle Nation Online on December 18, 2020.