Racial discrimination and inequality have perpetuated within the U.S. since its inception. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick initiated the national anthem protests to oppose the oppression of people of color in America. This study was developed in 2018 to identify social determinants of health underlying discriminatory beliefs and behaviors. The objective was to investigate the impacts of college students’ race, gender, political ideology, socio-economic status [SES], NFL interest, patriotism, and general protest support on support for the national anthem protests. We administered paper-and-pencil surveys across locations on the James Madison University campus using a convenience sample. There were 408 participants included, ranging from 18-39 years old; most identified as White, Liberal, and middle SES. Ultimately, race, political ideology, SES, patriotism, and general protest support were significantly correlated with national anthem protest support; additional associations were found between gender and general protest support, NFL interest and patriotism, and patriotism and general protest support. Highest levels of anthem protest support were identified among Black and Liberal participants, while lowest levels were among White and Conservative participants. Limitations included lack of generalizability, gaps in information due to unanalyzed data, social desirability bias, and confounding variables. Future research should prioritize ties between patriotism, social activism, and racism to illuminate beliefs and paths to change. Findings will aid in the education of individuals, social groups, public health practitioners, policymakers, and communities. Increasing knowledge surrounding social justice is important to decrease discriminatory behaviors and beliefs and pivotal to creating a more just, inclusive, and equitable society.

Authors' Note

This research study was developed and conducted in 2018 in partial fulfilment of the Health Sciences major at James Madison University. Throughout creation, we maintained the desire to publish our dedicated work. Through graduation, the pandemic, and initiation of professional careers, challenge after challenge arose, making it less and less likely that we would ever see publication. Although demanding, our commitment to publication, the dissemination of information, and the betterment of the country’s population aided in article completion.

The publication process was exhaustive, involving several rounds of revision and the compilation of additional documentation. It called for considerable introspection and deliberation regarding preconceived notions and implied beliefs as well as the impacts of our findings and written word. In addition to growing as writers and academics, this process aided in the growth of personal thought processes. The constant challenge to consider the weight of words, the implication of our discussion, and the desired effect upon our readers assisted in robust contemplation and development. This process was exceptionally rewarding and beneficial in professional, academic, and personal enhancement.

It has been several years since the initiation of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests; it was years after that our study was conducted and, more recently, that revisions were completed. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the murder of George Floyd, participated in the Black Lives Matter protests, and observed the insurrection of our Capitol. Without a doubt, the years have been relentless, and they have been difficult. As a nation, we have seen and experienced more than we could have imagined during a, hopefully, one-in-a-lifetime pandemic. These years have caused an evolution of beliefs and behaviors, our findings becoming more significant and relevant as division and strife intensify and become marked throughout the country.

In an effort to make consequential and timely impacts, we are hopeful that the publication in the Virginia Engage Journal will allow access to a wide variety of readers, increasing personal reflection, accountability, and evolution. The journal is open access, promoting information uptake without the obstacle of a paywall. Increased access and availability to people will allow for the active and expeditious transformation of the American populace. Ultimately, we hope to promote and assist in the improvement of the country.

The research study’s creation and publication process were extensive, exhaustive, and incredibly illuminating. First and foremost, we would like to thank Dr. Dayna Henry, our mentor throughout the study’s creation and conduction. Her guidance and instruction were substantially beneficial and continue to be greatly appreciated. Next, we would like to thank Dr. Steve Grande for his continued insight, understanding, and enlightenment throughout the publication process. Additionally, we want to thank the Virginia Engage Journal for making their articles and information accessible and available to all people. Finally, we want to thank our readers for actively working to consume meaningful information, consider their underlying perspectives, and strengthen themselves as inclusive, understanding, and progressive individuals.



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