Everyone knows about Colin Kaepernick and his protest during the national anthem, but have you heard about Feyisa Lilesa?
Lilesa is a marathoner for Ethiopia who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Because of what he did after the race, he now fears for his life. After his race, he held his fists over his head and crossed his wrists together, making an X. According to the Guardian, “The runner said he now feared detention or death if he returned home.”
People were glad that Lilesa did his protest. They were amazed. I think we are very lucky to live in a place where we have freedom of speech. “Lelisa’s ges-
ture reminded us that there are a lot more things going on in the world,” Lilesa’s grandmother says. Ms. Sasson, a teacher at Everett Middle School, says, “I think that it’s a very brave thing to do and I’m glad that he did it because I think this clearly brought a lot of awareness to a cause in his country.”
Kaepernick’s protest was risky, but not as risky as Feyisa Lilesa’s. To be honest, I thought Kaepernick’s protest was just for attention since he isn’t getting that much fame anymore. But like Ms. Sasson said, people don’t just do this for fun. “I think about how lucky Kaepernick is to protest and not feel that he needs to leave the country to do it.”
Both situations are very different from one another. Feyisa Lilesa stood up for what he believed in and was told to leave his country, but when Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem to support what he cared about, he stayed in this country and wasn’t threatened to leave.
I do not know what will happen to Lelisa. It depends on what decisions he makes, wise or not. But what I do know is that if he wanted to continue to race then he should be free to run within the United States. But this would mean sacrificing representing his country, Ethiopia, in international competition.
The similarities in both situations are that they both stood up for what they cared about and that they both used their platform as athletes to speak up against injustice.