Taking a Knee for Migrant Children

Over the past two years, the wave of professional athletes kneeling during the pregame presentation of the Star Spangled Banner has taken stage as one of the most prominent acts of peaceful protest of police brutality and racial inequality of the decade. This wave has seemingly crashed into Glenwood Springs, albeit for completely different reasons.

Junior Maximiliano Aranda, a winger for GSHS Boys Varsity Soccer team, found himself at the center of controversy when he knelt for the national anthem prior to Glenwood’s 10-0 home victory against Grand Junction Central High School.

While just as polarizing as the recent protests led by Colin Kaepernick, Aranda’s silent act of protest holds a distinct meaning and end goal.

“I take the knee because of the [United States] government’s mistreatment of migrant children,” he said. “My main goal is to raise awareness of this issue, whether it’s people in the stands at my games, students here at GSHS, or people in our community.”

The idea to kneel came to Aranda during his world history class, when he and his classmates learned about the mistreatment of migrant children, specifically at the United States-Mexico border.

“I already had some background knowledge of the issue, and right after [learning about migrant children] we learned about Colin Kaepernick and how he took the knee, and I thought it would be a good way to spread my message,” he said.

As is inherent with this issue, it did not take long for onlookers to notice Aranda, and weigh in on the issues themselves. Most of these reactions were garnered via Aranda’s social media, specifically an Instagram post made after the game. The post shows Aranda kneeling, with the caption “Believe in something. Even if means losing everything,” the same slogan used by the recent Nike advertisement campaign that features Kaepernick. The post quickly gathered attention and angry comments from Aranda’s fellow students.

“Can we get this man kicked off the team for being brown?” one comment read.

While disappointing, this was not entirely unexpected for Aranda.

“There’s lots of people who don’t respect what I’m doing at all, and just don’t like me anymore,” he said. “But that’s okay, because I’m just exercising my rights and they don’t have to like that.”  

While the post drew some abuse similar to this, there was an equal amount of support for Aranda and his protest.

“Pound it for peaceful protest,” said one user, while another read, “Nothing but respect for this bro.”

Aranda’s controversial post amassed over 50 comments from supporters and detractors alike.

Due to the nature of Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Valley, a large challenge in Aranda’s demonstration was the fact that he was performing it in such a small and isolated community. While some would name the protest a pointless venture, Aranda recognizes this, and seeks to provide awareness in spite of this obstacle.

“It is a small valley, and any form of protest would probably have a smaller impact on something so big, but my goal was just to raise awareness and publicize through social media,” he said. “That seemed to get a lot of attention, so I’m just trying to inform the Roaring Fork Valley first, and see how far I can go.”