Protest (n.)(v.) - What do you stand for?
A formal statement or gesture of objection or approval, especially by a group.
To make a strong declaration either for or against a position.
History & Etymology
Protest entered English through Old French from preotester, which came directly from latin protestari meaning to declare publicly, testify or protest. It’s comprised of two parts; pro meaning “forth, or before” (Which is where english ultimately gets the prefix pre- meaning forward or before.) + Testari, from testis meaning to witness. Testari is where we get the word testify, as in to testify in court.
So protest literally means to testify in public.
A protest can take on many shapes and sizes, ranging from a single person declaring their innocence, to a million people swarming the National Mall in Washington DC.
Recently protest has taken the form of kneeling during the national anthem before football games. For those kneeling they believe they are publicly testifying that they don’t stand for injustice and police brutality in America.
That may be the statement they are trying to make, but what a lot of America is hearing is that they believe America, the symbols of America, and anyone standing for the flag and anthem also stands for injustice.
The people interpreting their protest this way have taken it as a personal insult, and I don’t really blame them.
But the point I really want to make is that all those standing for the national anthem are also protesting. They are publicly declaring that they stand for freedom, liberty, and justice.
Protesting is an important part of American life, but we need to be careful about how we interpret how others protest, and who we may come across in our protest.
If we protest in a way that can be misinterpreted, it probably will be, and you’ll end up being intentionally misrepresented by those who would gain from making you look bad.