What does the gesture of kneeling mean to you?
What does this gesture really represent for the inhabitants of Maine?
For me, taking a knee is an act of solidarity. It says “I see you, I respect you, and I am with you.”
Taking a knee is a beautiful, non-violent gesture. It shows humility. It’s done in silence, a sacred motion. We place our knee down to worship, to pay respect, and to show our commitment to another soul. The act is simple yet powerful - both humble and commanding.
The symbolism behind this gesture became more powerful in the year 2020, after images of George Floyd’s murder flooded our news feeds. The officer responsible for his death used the act of taking a knee as the means for taking a life. The irony is not lost on us.
I take a knee for him, for the countless others, and for our country. As we shine a light on and reckon with the history that brought us here, let us take a moment to kneel in remembrance, take a breath... and then rise on our feet.
I am honored to have been involved with this project, and am grateful for the artists who collaborated in bringing Titi’s vision to fruition.
- Cayce Parker
Taking a knee is a sign of respect that honors our fellow Black and Brown Americans who have experienced isolation, hurt, judgement, exclusion, and still are not free. It acknowledges that we have a problem that we need to take seriously. Kneeling is a sign of reverence and deference - and sometimes mourning and vulnerability. As a white queer person, I take a knee to show my Black and Brown community that I see them, I hear them, I respect them, and I will keep fighting alongside them for justice and an end to racial inequality. We are stronger together.
- Hope Rovelto
Today I kneel as a statement that change is needed. I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement that white people need to respect and imitate without making it about us or as a way to grab power and attention. We need to do a lot of work to destroy the systems of oppression in this country. This work requires white people to take action with and following the lead of Black and Brown People.
Kneeling has long been recognized as a sign of respect in this country. I encourage people who disagree with my statement today to examine why standing for a flag or a song shows more respect than acknowledging and honoring the lives of those who are marginalized. I encourage everyone to examine why we stubbornly insist nothing needs to change or that not everything is about race. Because once you see the system and how it really works, it cannot be unseen.
I kneel as a reminder to myself to do the work. It is a way for others to know and hold me accountable to moving from statement to active participation. I am committing to real action, not just reading, learning, voting, donating, and sharing lessons I've learned with family, friends, coworkers, and others on social media. These are useful, but they are not enough to make the changes that must happen.
- Donna Benson
"Kapwa is the core concept in Filipinx personhood. Kapwa means fellow human being, and how we are the same, equal, and connected to our fellow human beings."
I take a knee for I am not me without you
I take a knee because Liberty & Justice FOR ALL IS A TRUTH THAT MUST BE HONORED not a view
It is not politics of perspectives that I feel in my gut
Not a decree of an institution that favors violence & smut
It is the Earth beneath me, the Stewards of the Land that teach me, that culture that you stole that fuels me
to take a knee with you
For I am not me without you
- Anne Esguerra
And if I tell you the knee is not a bone
but the place where three bones meet
will that make you think of intersections?
and will that make you think of streets?
And if I say their names,
will you remember them?
Femur, Tibia, Patella
And if I tell you there are two kinds of cartilage
that wrap around the ends of those bones
articular and meniscus, will you start to lose interest?
What if I tell you meniscus can also mean lens?
That it comes from a word that means crescent, or moon?
Might you start to imagine a light in the darkness?
Could you let that make you think of focus?
Of seeing? Would that help you keep going?
And if I tell you that part of what cartilage does
aside from helping things glide as they move
is absorb the shock, the weight of what happens—
Will you feel it in your body?
Will you remember this is the reason we gather?
What if I tell you the knee is a hinge?
And then I remind you that everything hinges
on what we do from here, knee-deep in our reckoning
And if I say their names
will you remember them?
Emmet, George, Tamir, Breonna
Trayvon, Michael, Philandro, Sandra
Will you fall on your knees,
will you hear the angels’ voices?
Oh holy mechanism by which we bend
to pray, to grieve, to honor, to beg,
to protest, propose, give thanks and respect
Will you kneel in solidarity, bring your body
close to the earth, this sacred ground
Will you take a knee to take a stand?
Would that help you to keep going?
- Daniyah Kazadi
Growing up as a Catholic I was taught that taking a knee or kneeling was an outward sign of respect and humility, the acknowledgement of a power far greater than our own. With the Black Lives Movement the gesture of taking a knee has also become to me a sign of solidarity and unity, a protest against societal dogma intended to create arbitrary divisions between us through systemic prejudice, bigotry and injustice. It is also a sign of hope, hope for a day when we are not targeted or judged by those qualities about us we can not change but rather on who we are, how we treat one another and for the deeds that we do. I chose the ocean to kneel by because while the oceans serve to physically separate & divide us, it also is the common medium that touches us all.
- Rich Daniels
As a Jewish person of Ashkenazic descent, taking a knee connects me with the collective consciousness of all those who have been oppressed. I choose to be a Kundalini yogini, where the most important belief is "the other is you."
- Danika Kuhl
I take a knee to express my commitment of solidarity with all who are disproportionately harmed by systemic racism, sexism and the oppression and violence that is upheld through an ideology of division; I kneel for our Black, Brown, Indigenous, and all POC relatives; I kneel for our Trans and Non-Binary relatives; I kneel for all our relatives in the non-human natural world. The ideology of "white supremacy" that exists to uphold colonialism and capitalism is a plague which harms us all, regardless of skin color. This ideology is hurting relationships between humans across our entire human family. I kneel as a prayer that we remember and revive the truth of our interconnectedness.
We took a knee in Deering Oaks Park to draw awareness to the history of this particular location. In the "Battle of Deerings Oaks" (Sep 28, 1689) many Wabanaki people - Indigenous/First Nations peoples to this land - lost their lives and land to British colonizers. Before it was called 'Portland' this land area was called 'Machegonne' in the Micmac language. By kneeling here we offer our respect to the people who were here before colonization and to their descendants, who are still here.
- Marita Kennedy-Castro
It touches me but I kneel down. My clothes are full of snow, it’s cold but I kneel down. The trials, we don’t stop going through them but we stick together. The cold prevents me from going to bed at night, I only rest when my friends support me. My scars are like my tears, too proud for me to show them to you, even though it hurts. A big thought to those who have lost a loved one this year. I kneel for the homeless of the streets of Portland. I kneel for the minorities who still have no voice here in Maine. I kneel down for those who cry out their mothers name cause they can’t breathe. I kneel down for all past and present victims of Covid 19. I kneel down for all people with disabilities. I have a thought of all the people locked up and all the oppressed people, these children separated from their families and locked in cages in Texas. I kneel down for those who have left home to seek refuge here. I take a knee for myself.
- Titi de Baccarat
We kneel during times of pain that has been caused by systemic racism, and social racism. Wounds that haven’t been healed, and continued oppression from our created systems. We are standing with everybody that has been harmed in our communities, our country, our loved brothers and sisters, and the youth that are going to grow up in the systems.
We kneel because we want to take a stand on a particular issue that’s been harming and hurting human lives.
We kneel because we stand for Black Lives Matter, in those three words.
We kneel because of the mothers that have cried because of the loss of their children through the murders of systems. Either from bullets, or from pressure.
We kneel for freedom.
We kneel because we can.
We kneel because we want to, and we will.
We kneel because we don’t take a no for an answer.
America will have to understand the pain, and that we will never stop until true freedom is given.
That’s why we kneel.
- Abdulkadir Ali - Maine Youth Justice - Maine Inside Out
“Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday…”
"...strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers.”
“Say: no man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation.”
I draw much of my inspiration from the Baha’i Faith. I find my fire through my cultural background and my daily striving for my family, neighborhood and the world at large. Kneeling can be seen as purely a symbolic act. A cry for justice, an acknowledgement of ongoing disparity of freedoms and essentially, “I’ll stand for the flag, when all it is supposed to represent stands for me.” Often it is seen solely as an act of defiance. But defiance implies disorder for disorder’s sake, rather than the noble act of demanding justice.
I decided to kneel by the ocean because I believe we are one people inextricably linked in body, mind and soul. If I have cancer in my foot and choose to ignore it because I don’t, at that moment, feel the effects on my heart, the cancer will no doubt spread if left untreated. “Racism is a profound deviation from the standard of true morality. It deprives a portion of humanity of the opportunity to cultivate and express the full range of their capability and to live a meaningful and flourishing life, while blighting the progress of the rest of humankind.” The Universal House of Justice 22 July 2020
The ocean symbolizes vastness, power and limitless beauty-usually demanding awe of whoever is in its presence. If only we could see the potentialities of the oneness of humanity in the same light. Ultimately the ocean is made up of individual drops, yet look at its power collectively.
I kneel by the ocean because we need justice, it’s past due. I kneel by the ocean because I refuse to be pigeonholed as simply a man in defiance of the norm. I kneel by the ocean knowing there’s a larger unlimited prize out there for us all. A world that operates as one human family.
- Frank G. Robinson Jr.
To me taking a knee is a gesture that shows committed solidarity with all who are victims of systemic racism and the oppression and brutality that comes along with it.
The ideology of "white supremacy" that exists to uphold colonialism and capitalism, is a plague to which we are all victims, regardless of skin color. I put "white supremacy" in quotes because light skinned people are not supreme, and this ideology is damaging our relationships between humans across the entire human family. Taking a knee means I will not stand for this ~ I will take a knee and raise my fist in solidarity and as a statement that I am one of the humans who demands wellbeing, protection and respect for the lives of our fellow black and brown relatives. We are not different races, we are the human race. The horrendously destructive plague of "white supremacy" ideology must be extinguished by the truth.
I kneel with you as an artist-friend, in shared community. I kneel now in solidarity to call attention to the issues of racial inequity, including police killing of Black and Brown bodies and other forms of white supremacy's systematic brutality. As a child, I learned to kneel to pray. At points of my life I have been on my knees in sorrow, begging for a gift, or in gratitude. I believe being on ones knee is the most graceful sign of peaceful protest: a signal of honor, reverence, and surrender. For me, prayer is a time for emptiness and silence rather than active reflection. I think that is why I instinctively covered my chest when asked to pose: I hold the unjust treatment of Black and Brown people there in my heart.
- Kelly McConnell
I was asked why I chose to wear the color black in this photo. For some, black signifies something somber, funereal. To me, it is quite the opposite. It represents promise, hope, potential.
For me, the bended knee is a sign of peaceful protest, a recommitment to our freedom of speech, a promise to honor what makes American democracy great. It is a sign of respect and humility, honoring those who came before us who worked hard to ensure rights for all. We have not finished the work needing to be done, saying out loud Black Lives Matter.
- Mary Allen Lindemann
The catchphrase of the 60’s; if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Thus, I became a nurse.
Now, I am an artist. “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times”,
So now I am kneeling, to acknowledge and protest the ongoing racial inequality, white privilege, rigged systems.
As I learned in nursing, every life is a gift. As I learned in art, diversity is a beautiful thing. We must commit to equality for all, not just some. It will make us stronger. Be part of the solution
- Anne Strout
Kneeling can be a sign of respect or in some cases mourning; respect for Black Lives Matter, and mourning for the victims of police violence.
- Harlan Baker
Kneeling in protest is the bare minimum for a white ally. It’s only a symbolic action- but symbols can be
powerful. An ally with the courage of their implied convictions goes further. Only then can that symbol
mean reach its powerful potential.
- Phil Savage
Kneeling takes me back to middle school football - back to showing respect for injured players - on both teams.
Kneeling reminds me to be humble, and aware. Kneeling is watching. Kneeling is taking a pause, taking a beat. Kneeling is reflecting on our bare reality. We kneel in respect. We kneel in power.
- Jerry Edwards
I kneel for the same reason Colin Kaepernick kneeled in the football games. I kneel to show respect to the unarmed black men and women who were murdered by police officers. I’m kneeling against police brutality, it needs to end. We kneel in power and together.
- Makayla Edwards
I kneel with firm commitment to intolerance towards injustice, unfairness, and violence.
I kneel with resolve to support the right of all persons to be treated with equal fairness, equal opportunities, equal justice.
I kneel with dignity to unite with other non-violent protesters around the world who are focused on eliminating prejudice-induced inequalities and violence.
I kneel with hope looking toward a brighter future when all the manifestations of violence are replaced with ways of being, thinking, and living which strive to create heartfelt connections between each one of us, no matter how one differs from another.
- Carolyn Civitarese
Well before our flag stood this rock and the river covers it sometimes. I kneel with Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter because black lives matter. Black people should not have to fear being murdered at any time, on any land, because the authorities willfully keep choosing the last resort first. It's taught. It's accepted. That's why they kneel. It must be unacceptable to us all.
- Rafael Macias
You are not born to suffer. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is up to you. I kneel to help people avoid unnecessary suffering.
- Tony Dancer
Taking a knee is a sacred posture. It is the body's expression of respect. Kneeling we affirm the holiness of life and consciousness in all of its precious forms.
- Larry Hayden
Change will happen but not by itself.
I kneel to show respect and concern, and to remember how far we have yet to go to achieve equal protection under the law.
- Dale Akeley (Chip)
I kneel in support of my sons who don’t look like me and the one who feels blessed to call them his brothers. I kneel for my neighbors, my colleagues and those I love fiercely. I kneel for all my brothers and sisters who suffer the continuous bias, racism and inequality afflicting them daily. I don’t begin to know your struggles, your pain and all that you endure, but I feel you, I see you, I hear you and I will fight for you always. - Laura deDoes
I wanted to be a part of the kneeling project because it seemed like the right time and I knew I had to do it. When Colin Kaepernick first got down on his knee during the national anthem I think he felt a lot of emotion. He was proud of what he had done and even though a lot of people were against what he did, there were many who supported him.
I am proud to be a part of this project, it is important to support my black community.
It makes me feel good that my mom and brother wanted to kneel with me, because I know that they care so much about me and they wanted to support me.
- Bezabeh Mendelsohn -13
"To me kneeling is showing that we have a problem with traditional America. Kneeling during something as simple as a patriotic song is powerful. Just as powerful as it is it also shows that we mean no harm and don’t pose a threat which I think is important."
- Jaylen Edwards-Burwell
"The act of kneeling is humbling, stabilizing, and empowering all at once. Whether we take this position to plant a seed, honor our loved ones, fight for what we care for, or pay our respects, taking a knee is a powerful gesture."
- Ashley Page
What does kneeling mean to me? What emotions and beliefs does this gesture communicate to me? These are the kinds of questions I immediately asked myself when I was invited to participate in the project called The Kneeling Art Photography Project. When I knelt for the photo I felt a strong and sacred emotion like every time I am in prayer. It is a strong symbol of solidarity and respect for the generations of black voices who have been calling for change for centuries.
- Jacqueline Rukundo
"I kneel in support of all those seen as ‘other’ or ‘lesser’ in the eyes of a privileged white patriarchal society. I’ve spent a life on stage. As an older, white, male actor, I can make choices that affect how others perceive me. I can hide my differences. I can pass. A Black man in America does not have that choice. He is seen as ‘other’ and ‘lesser’ in his own country simply because of the color of his skin. A paradigm shift is in order, it’s long past due. "
- Daniel Noel
I kneel in support of those who for too long had faced the inequity of racism they do not deserve. To the dreams dashed and lives cut short by c and understanding the power of theater to bring a message of a more just future. Theater is about collaboration about coming together to create a vision of the past and present to take us to the future
I kneel for Trayvon, for Breonna, for Emmitt Till, for black and brown bodies left hanging from trees, for the mothers and fathers left grieving. America needs a 12 step program to recover from Racism.
- Anita Stewart
I am taking part in this project because I wanted to bring awareness to the injustice that most minorities face worldwide. In the United States, too, we see a tremendous amount of injustice towards the black community. In the Democratic Republic of Congo – my home country – people die on a daily basis due to the struggle over land and natural resources, bloody wars that most of the world ignores.
Posing for this photograph is an opportunity for me to share a meaningful message with an American audience. To start with, I lift to the sky a knife called "Epalang Knife '' from the Yanzi people, a tribe that I am part of, which is located in the central part of the Democratic Republic Congo. In addition, the knife that I hold in my outstretched hand was stolen from a local chief in the DRCongo by Belgian mercenaries in the late 19th. I purchased it from a Belgian Art gallery. In that effort, I finally got back what was stolen from my ancestor's hand.
So, I lift my arm holding the "Epalang Knife'' not as a sign of violence but as a sign of self-appropriation and freedom commemorating my ancestors who died for me. On their shoulders I stand up today. With this historic knife, I also salute those in America who fight for their ancestors and join them in their struggle to end racism here and throughout the world.
- Jean Medard Zulu
I take a knee in recognition of all of the work we must do holistically to make our country, our world, a place of equality. This endeavor is a key component behind mitigating climate change, and recognition of its disproportionate effects on the livelihoods of different peoples. As both an artist and a science communicator, I’m empowered by interdisciplinary approaches to share environmental science with new audiences. My artwork incorporates research data — from local trends to global changes —by pairing graphical information with visual imagery. I hope that my art encourages audiences to connect with science in ways that are emotionally relevant. I recognize that the focus of my work has been on changes to our planet, rather than to people. I take a knee for the necessity for me to listen, learn, communicate, and act, in support of climate justice. Given that art is a powerful component of our culture, it’s important to me that my paintings reflect important stories about our environment.
- Jill Pelto
I kneel in humility.
I kneel in gratitude for my ancestors and for my friends and family.
I kneel in compassion for those who struggle with substance abuse.
I knee in solidarity with victims of racism and sexism.
I kneel in hopelessness and hope.
- Karine Odlin
"I take a knee,
I humbly, silently, spiritually plead
when I have no words.
Joy, pain, loss, gain, beauty, sorrow, others, myself.
The universe knows what I can barely show.
My hands clasp, they pull my questions and ask me to listen."
- Susan de Grandpre
My 'Why I Kneel': I kneel because, to me, kneeling means humbling yourself to consistently accept the realities of white supremacy while also committing to collectively dismantling white supremacy in all personal, professional, and systematic spaces.
- - Aleena
The cliche saying of actions speak louder than words come to mind. People can say that they don't stand for social injustices but aren't doing anything to show that. The physical act of kneeling is a representation of not standing for these civil injustices. I don't want to be a person who stands by and does nothing.
As a child of an immigrant and refugee growing up in Falmouth, Maine, I couldn't help but hate the fact that that I wasn't white like most of my peers. Growing up in that environment made me understand the importance of representation in making people feel welcome, and it sealed the deal on me deciding to do non-profit community work. Even then, growing up in such a white environment left me with many prejudices of my own that I had to work through after graduating and relocating to a city with more diversity. POC can be just as racist as white people, and we have a duty to speak out on race issues without removing ourselves from the conversation. Today I kneel for non-white children who dream of one day seeing more people like them in the mainstream media—I promise we get closer every day!
A country which does not look out for and protect all its people is not a "great" country. I kneel because the systems of white supremacy routinely inflict physical, social, and emotional violence on Black people, Latinx people, and people of color. It does not need to be this way, and there is work to be done. I kneel in commitment to that work.
I kneel because there's a growing racial and economic divide. I kneel for unity and equality amongst all American regardless of race, religion and/or political stance.
Kneeling, to me, carries a message of commitment, importance and humility. Kneeling for this project, and for social justice, is a way for me to demonstrate my commitment to solidarity and liberation for all. Additionally, I kneel to demonstrate my humility as I have much to learn and unlearn to unveil the any prior blind-spots or overlooked points of privilege. It is a commitment to a future where learning and unlearning is constant and active that fuels my participation, contributions and dedication to a community grounded in equity and inclusion.
I take my knee in solidarity with all oppressed people. I have been working on Civil Rights since the 60s and while it is not easy for me to get down on my knee at 70, it is important to me that I do whatever I can do to bring attention to what we all as fellow human beings need to do to protect each other and send a message that we will not stand for what those who oppress do. I just hope in some small way this will help with that message. And I am also very happy to be working with Titi De Baccarat on this, his project. We are so lucky to have such an talented artist, who is also an humanitarian, in our community here in Portland, Maine.
- Jacqui Deveneau
Kneeling Means Fighting For Justice
I kneel to fight the vicious legacy in white supremacy. Kneeling is a form of an uprise. Today, every black men and women in this country live in an uncertainty and constant fear for their own lives. In this giant country, a nation that is technologically advanced, sent a man to the moon and landed a machine on Mars, yet cant heal it is own people who suffered centuries in silence and oppression. Our nation has betrayed it is own mighty destiny.
Black men and women are hated by the system--chronically, systematically for over four hundred years. I want my kneeling to allow the suffering to speak and those gone too soon to feel not abandoned and forgotten. Through kneeling we demand much needed change in this country. It must happen now. Black America will not wait for one more day. I want the story in this book to be told for years to come until justice arrives.
America can serve justice to its people. It is capable of doing so,---if it can send a man to the moon, robots to Mars, and it is mighty military cross continents, why can’t it also invest in its own people. Prevent more black men and women in dying under the policing system of America. Until America recognizes us, until it accepts our demands we will be kneeling at home, on the street or at work.
- Abdi Nor Iftin
Empathy among our citizens would erase any issue of inequality in our country.As members of a privileged race, we are still learning the struggles that people of other races have dealt with for generations as a normal part of life. We kneel in solidarity to raise awareness of the positive, peaceful message behind the demonstration of noncompliance. To quote Colin Kaepernick ‘ “ To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way”’.
- Starlette, Caden and Kent Ruckman- Denslow
What kneeling down on one knee means to me
To embrace justice
To show that you have the freedom of expression
To stand for a movement
To achieve a bold statement
To show a means to an end
To stand together as one race
To show equality and unity!!!
- Nancy Valmond
Taking A Knee signals surrender, supplication, and subservience. Colin Kaepernick used Taking A Knee to call attention to the ways ALL Black Lives, however privileged, must still acknowledge and surrender to the presumption of white superiority. I Take A Knee as an ally who questions and protests this
- Chris White
This Taking a Knee is taking a pause to lower myself closer to the earth, to touch the source that connects us all, to gather all my strength and resolve, with the help of the mother and the ancestors prepare my soul to once again stand up and fight.
- Daniel Minter
Kneeling has always been a demonstration of honor and reverence. We honor the earth, and the soil in our garden that magically provides so much. And we honor all those marking injustice by taking a knee.
- Paul Cunningham:& Jen Joaquin
Paul : Take a knee. Take a break. Take a minute to reflect on all that’s been taken away from each and
every “m-----f----….ing” one of us. “We must love one another or die” .
Kneeling is a small gesture to convey my large disgust and contempt for this country and it’s history.
Kneeling, to me, is meant to show solidarity with all the people negatively impacted by American empire.
- Paul Lichter & Jake Lichter
"I'm taking a knee to support people who show great courage every day as they fight for justice. I will use the privilege I have to stand behind people who are oppressed."
- Jolely Gibbs
"Taking a knee means showing my respect for Colin Kaepernick and for everyone fighting for racial justice and equity in America. I know this is not the only thing I can do. I can find endless ways to do better."
- Alison Gibbs
I kneel because everyone is equal no matter what.
- Joe Black
In honor of my grand-daughter,
I humbly kneel before you, in solidarity with people of color, as a peaceful plea for:
So you might think about those who have not experienced:
- Lesley Macvane
I bow in reverence to and in memorium of the thousands of health care workers who have died from COVID-19, heroes who showed up to do their job and died in the service of others. (Amnesty International estimates more than 17,000 health care workers have died from COVID-19.) I kneel for ALL the people who died, my own patients and 3 million others across the globe. I take a knee to honor their lives and to honor their families who live on. I kneel to call attention to systemic racism which contributes to the health disparities in the US that cause Black, Hispanic, and indigenous people to die at 1.9x, 2.3x and 2.4x the rate of White non-hispanic people respectively! (Data from US CDC) I take a knee, also, to honor the black and brown Americans who have died at the hands of police, especially George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and SO MANY OTHERS whose murders sparked international protests during these two epidemics of novel coronavirus and longstanding racism.
- Julia McDonald
Mason Grant is an Intentional Peer Support Specialist working for Sweetser. He enjoys connecting with others through his natural curiosity about people’s experiences with an understanding that our own choices are often shaped by our traumas and life events. Mason shares his own experiences, challenges, strengths, and vulnerabilities with others as a mental health and transgender rights advocate. As scary as it is to become vulnerable and share personal narratives about his mental health, substance misuse, and being a transgender male, his passion for improving people’s lives always wins. Sharing his story is also part of his own healing. The most worthwhile rewards for Mason have come from people telling him that his stories have helped them heal from their own personal struggles. Sharing his story gives other individuals permission to acknowledge their own story in order to move forward with bravery and optimism in their lives. Through being so open about his life, Mason is doing a small part to make the world a better place. In addition to working on Sweetser’s Warm-Line, Mason is trained as a facilitator in alternatives to suicide, hearing voices, and previously facilitated groups with the Maine Transgender Network.
I take a knee in solidarity and respect with and for people fighting for social justice.
- Mason Grant
I kneel in support to end systemic racism.
- Dr Sarah Slagle-Arnold
Taking a kneel is standing up for justice and against violence
- James Chute
"The gesture of kneeling to me is a powerful message to the dark world of racial injustices and violence. This gesture also represents the act of humility and respect to my spiritual being “God Almighty” It’s also a sign of veneration and reflection. Kneeling reminds me that there is something beyond me, more massive than me and needing to be worshipped."
- Young Francis
“Anytime I have knelt in choreography it has been a part of the dance where I got to settle energy, rest, reflect, and reground. To kneel amidst dancing can also feel like a reactivation. To kneel for me is both a listening and a moment you take before flying. To kneel is to hold space for radical creativity. To bring awareness for social change. To show reverence to those who laid the groundwork of justice before us and who sewed into the generation's resilience to continue it. I kneel to embody hope and to stand in love. I kneel to show an example to my son.
I kneel to unite the community and continue to spread the power of connection rather than separation. To kneel, for me, is to be human. - Jacqui Defrança
“A statement to those without a voice, we are here for the duration!”
- Omar Kingston
"Taking a knee to me means so many things to me.
I think of my grandfather, I think of my mother. I think of my friends through the years that I've been lucky enough to come in contact with from all different backgrounds. I remember the teachings of these people. They taught me to fight like hell for what is right, for what I truly believe. What I truly believe is that EVERYONE deserves equality. Everyone deserves justice, peace and love. Not just a chosen few. But ALL. I'm kneeling from a place of love and fighting like hell to change it. I hope as long as I live I can continually make sure I educate myself on how others feel and do as much as I can to help change what has gone on for far too long. In solidarity, I kneel.”
- Kyle Poisonner
"Kneeling. Taking a knee. Going down on one knee. Why do we kneel? I thought about this a lot. About the often symbolic nature of this stance. We kneel to show reverence in prayer. When professing our love for another we kneel as an offering of self. We fall to our knees when we hear of a tragedy. And we use this as a form of punishment, a rendering to powerlessness, and pain. We also must kneel to do the hard work of gardening, working the land. Kneeling makes us appear smaller - animals do this too, as a sign of submissiveness. Kneeling is a posture not of confrontation but of invitation. The symbolic nature of taking a knee in this moment in time is a powerful invitation to deep thought. We are speaking with our bodies - sending a message of love, hope, unity and peace. To me kneeling here and now bears the flag of interconnectedness and community. I see this as a way to be in the moment with solidarity, grace and the common bonds of humanity.”
- Laura Dunn
"I kneel for all of the sacred souls and my ancestors who came before me who endured deep pain and trauma due to their beautiful melanated skin. I kneel with all of you who are walking alongside me and to bring awareness to those who do not see the point. I kneel for those who will come after me with the vision that black and brown liberation has risen high. I kneel to those at the forefront of this movement, to pay homage to the big work that still needs to be done, & to those who are newly turning their minds and actions to the importance of liberation."
- Gabrielle Barboza
To take a knee means to give respect. That is why when proposing marriage this was once done. That is why when addressing your elders as a child this was once done. That is why when saying prayers we often are on our knee. To take a knee with a fist raised in the air means — I too am human and deserve respect.
- Marcia Minter
Kneeling shows respect in a way that words can’t always. I kneel because it it reminds me to be humble when I forget, as we all do. It’s an acknowledgement of gratitude and mutual understanding.
- Emeline Speyer-Ferguson, MSW
I feel kneeling, deeply with in my heart, but physically I must stand, to represent my grandchildren, who are black and to end racism and to secure social justice for them, and all other minorities that are daily oppressed.
I support this project because of my love and admiration for the artist and it’s meaning behind it.
- Jeannie Toppi
I got down on my knee and posed for this project because I feel you, I see you, and I want to help protect you. I beg forgiveness for not fighting for justice every breathing moment.
As Executive Director at Creative Portland and on behalf of our board of directors, we feel blessed by our city's diversity and the abundance of local talent. We are the fiscal sponsor for the Kneeling Art Project project because we are committed to promoting justice and equality in all our endeavors. We admire Titi's efforts to create an impactful exhibition to generate dialogue and to spread awareness by taking a knee. We have no tolerance for hate, violence and bullying, and we will work hard to adapt and promote anti-racist initiatives.
- Dinah Minot
Taking a knee as a demonstration of protest was first introduced to me by Colin Kaepernick in 2016. As a Black Trans Woman living in one of the whiteness states in America, kneeling down on one knee is an act of empowering my Black body in a country that was structured on killing Black people. White people have been afforded everything they now possess and occupy at the expense of anti-Black racism and the genocide of Indigenous people all over. When I take a knee, I am ultimately screaming “STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING” because I believe that the oppressive systems that continue to operate daily, must be dismantled. Taking a knee means abolishment of police due to their long lasting racism directed towards Black bodies using brutal and lethal force. I’m grateful for what Colin taught me about speaking the truth and advocating for justice no matter how much of a sacrifice it takes. Taking a knee means practicing anti racism daily, laboring to dismantle white-bodied supremacy and dealing with the fear that James Baldwin insisted all of us must tackle in order to truly be a conqueror of liberating all Black people, most especially our Black Trans Women.
- Truth Speaks
I kneel in honor of what our brothers, sisters, elders, and children of color have endured on this indigenous land. I kneel as an ally and a white person invested in and committed to continued action to dismantle the systems of racial supremacy and injustice in this country.
Until we remove human labels and othering, we will not have the unification that is possible in a new paradigm. We are all truly one people.
Love and compassion are needed at every level. I will listen and make space for the healing of trauma. I will open my heart to the shared wisdom that can make our lives better. I kneel in solidarity.
- Elizabeth Ross Holmstrom
I took-a-knee to surrender and find peace during difficult and confusing moments after George Floyd’s death. I saw social media making fun of the narrative but taking a knee is an act of love when two opposing sides can’t agree. Bowing down to each other takes away the powerful of the thinking mind. Physically moving your body in a new way allows you to get into your feelings so tough emotions can dissolve.
- Desiree Lester
My grandfather was an educator and a champion of citizenship for immigrants in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I kneel because I align with his values today. I kneel because I believe in our ability to heal our divisions and work for equality in every realm. The guardian angel signifies the past, but also the persistence of love. Her raised hand wards off harm, and mercy to those who have been kept outside. It’s time to join hands and build.
- Christine Sullivan
I take a knee to stand
against a status quo which reigns
without regard for human beings!
i kneel quietly to hear & find a way
that i may raise a fist in open love,
in action, in humility, in solidarity
with the generations & generations
silenced by a system built to fail
the very people it swore to protect!
i will kneel to stand against the hate
& for the love of all Black lives, always.
- Benjamine Sapp, local poet
In gratitude for the gift of our common humanity, I kneel. From a lifetime of kneeling, I now have a great difficulty kneeling; I genuflect and pray we recognize we are one people, equal and loved.
- Rev. Thomas M. Murphy
Kneeling on a Maine beach on a summers day. With respect and hope for the natural environment around us and all its inhabitants. With respect and hope for our survival from the raging, haunting pandemic. And with respect and hope that we may emerge all the more wiser and resilient in our collective habitat as we respond to the ill winds of the virus and the political divide.
- Charley Norris
I wanted to bring positivity to a very negative time, and to spread awareness.
Peace and love! One man one race.
- Aminata Doumbouya Ford
I joined you to support your cause of fighting social injustice and systemic racism in this country. I believe that people can change, but it takes time . So, we need to be patient and enjoy our life while we are still waiting haters to join in and hold hands for unity and prosperity.
- Maurice Habimfura
In the summer of 2016, I was deep into new mama mode caring for a tiny treasure, while navigating my mother-in-law's declining health as a family. Being tuned out from the media and social networks, when Kaepernick took the knee that August, it barely captured my attention. I had an aversion to football (and much of pro-sports, with the multitude of issues they hold & represent,) and basically paid no attention to it. Meanwhile, not growing up here, I did not understand the symbolism of what "taking the knee" meant, or why that action was "unpatriotic," and "disrespectful" to the flag. I was also leery of the whole American "patriotism" banters...so, it was easy to waive it aside.
That autumn, on the 8th of November, 2016… the f(h)ateful election. This popped the babymoon bubble and pulled me back into the rest of the world as I sat in disbelief. What had I missed? A rude awakening into how much the nation had been ailing for a very long time, as well as to my propensity of not understanding why.
A year later, my feeds were abuzz with Kaepernick again. Not a single team would sign him. Doing a bit of research, the only probable reason perceivable was that this was a blatant black-listing and/or a punishment for bringing much needed attention to a human rights issue that made "mainstream" America uncomfortable. For the plight of black lives.
"(H)e transformed a collective ritual—the playing of the national anthem—into something somber, a reminder of how far we still have to go to realize the high ideal of equal protection under the law that the flag represents."
Smith, Jeremy Adam & Keltner, Dacher. "The Psychology of Taking A Knee." Scientific American, 29th September, 2017.
However, in conversations with others who were better versed with the world of pro-football, the gist was that though what he did was honourable, it really came down to him not being a good QB, his unconventional play style, and that his act reinforced a supposed trait of his--not a team player--and that could lead to serious, even deadly injuries in this highly dangerous contact sport. I resigned myself to "ok...what do I know".....but it just never sat well with me.
And present day.....this opportunity.
I am now more cognizant of why the mainstream responses to Colin Kaepernick back then bothered me. But what did not sit well with me most, I realize, was and is my complicity in all of this. My inaction. My ignorance. My lack of understanding. My proclivity for comfort. My apathy. My privilege.
In taking the knee today, I join Kaepernick and countless others in protesting the treatment of Black and Indigenous lives, as well as the systemic racism that still pulses forcefully through our societal veins. I also take the knee in honour of his courage and wisdom, and so many others before and after him, as my pledge of commitment to the fight for equality, social justice, and the rights of lives. And lastly, I take the knee in reverence of and respect for Mother Earth. I am grateful for this opportunity offered by Titi, and for Marita in offering this symbolic location to take our knee.
- Megu Hirayama
Before the killing of Trayvon Martin I think I was a bit naive about racism. I either wasn’t paying attention or didn’t want to admit that racism was alive and all around. I guess it made sense that I thought racism was either a thing of the past or at least rare. Maybe that makes sense as a white woman who hasn’t been a victim of racism and not really thinking about the ways I was causing harm with my white privilege and ignorance.
The beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement was a wake up call for me and when I realized that I was part of a deep rooted racist system and racism was inside of me. Yes, I had the thought, “but I’m not racist”, but it wasn’t until I heard the words “anti-racism” that I fully understood that my complicit behavior was a big issue and I was not being actively anti-racist.
For me taking a knee is recognition that I play a part in racism and I recognize my privilege. Taking a knee is taking a moment of silence in solidarity. Taking a knee is remembrance of brutality, violence, and aggression toward Black, Brown and Indigenous People, and knowing that I must make changes in the way I move through the world, with eyes open, taking the opportunities I have to actively be anti-racist.
- Stephanie Harmon
As a gardener and not a sports fan I think of taking a knee, coming close to the earth, as a reminder of my personal responsibility to root out racism in my own heart and mind so that the minds I cultivate, those of my children, friends and community can be free of this invasive, insidious way of functioning. Taking a knee is a public act that speaks to a personal commitment to be part of the dramatic shift that is urgently needed. Taking a knee is accountability for my part, how I have and do contribute to racism and my commitment to learn humbly and to act! Act! Act!
- Melissa Hoskins
The reason for my kneeling stance is that there are those with disabilities who may not be able to respond appropriately in the time of altercation with police., But I have not been in such an experience myself I hope never to., I am well aware that this does happen.
- Aaron Seglin
To me "Taking a Knee" is a way to nonviolently protest the systemic racism and racial violence that are a part of everyday life in 21st century America. When I take a knee it's a way for me as a person with white privilege to say, "I don't want to live in a society based on systemic racism and white privilege, and I want to be an ally for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color." Americans often espouse high ideals of equality and justice for all, but we don't live up to those ideals. I want to do whatever I can to help us achieve those ideals.
- Ann Brandt
For me, taking a knee represents an acknowledgment of historical and current truths. We live within systems that bestow privilege on some and life sentences (and- too frequently- death sentences) to others. Which we receive has nothing to do with our value or efforts but on accidents of birth. If we shut our eyes to this, we feed the systems and they grow stronger, more rigid. Taking a knee means opening my eyes to our collective reality.
- Erica Alt
To take a knee for change: in this moment, it is most importantly a gesture of respect for Black lives, and of solidarity with the leaders of the BLM movement. It is acknowledgment of those who have fallen or been struck down, and of their loved ones. Is our society is attending enough to their importance and value? No, not yet. We can mark this sorrow, this clear and consistent failing, by quietly taking a knee.
For me, it is also having the humility to ask if we are doing right by other beings and the earth, and waiting, listening, for answers. Taking a knee means looking to our community, to ask if it is well, to see if it is more exclusive or inclusive, and to tend it in ways that strengthen it and make it more whole.
- Beth O’Malley
For me, taking a knee represents my commitment to participatory solidarity, justice, and compassion. The systemic racism and violence my black neighbors and friends must endure living in this country and culture is deplorable and unacceptable. We need to work together to fix this, and I pledge that I'll pull my weight in the ongoing struggle for a just, equitable future.
- Patrick Liddy
I take a knee to express my commitment of solidarity with all human beings who are disproportionately harmed by systemic racism, sexism and the oppression and violence that is upheld through an ideology of division; I kneel for our Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islanders relatives; I kneel for our Trans, Non-Binary, and all GLBTQIA relatives; I kneel for all our relatives in the more than human natural world.
The construct and ideology of "white supremacy" that exists to uphold a colonialist and capitalist hierarchy is a plague which harms us all, regardless of skin color. This ideology is hurting relationships between humans across our entire human family. I kneel as a prayer that we remember and revive the truth of our interconnectedness, create reparations and healing and forge a new future for humankind.
- Marita Kennedy-Castro
I take a knee to continue the work of those who have paved the way for me. I take a knee for Black lives, for my life, the lives of my family, and the lives of your family and friends even if you choose to 'not consider them to be Black'. I take a knee for true democracy. I take a knee for equality so that your White child will have the same chance of dying by police violence as my Black child. I kneel for justice. I kneel for truth!
- Alison Green-Parsons
I’m a queer, disabled filmmaker and photographer living in southern Maine. This project is so important because it put diversity in front of and behind the scenes, something sorely missing in our industry. Growing up in Maine, I was fortunate to experience a small amount of diversity by living in a navy town, but I was brought up in a “colorblind” household and had to come to grips with that philosophy as a form of racism and oppression. In Maine, we do many wonderful things but we tend to erase the racial diversity of our state and our state’s history, which becomes increasingly toxic and dangerous as Maine becomes more diverse. As a nonbinary trans man, I can feel viscerally the need for inclusion and seeing diversity as a strength, but I think working toward racial equity is the challenge of our generation and I want to help in any way I can.
This is why the primary reasons I wish to join your project are promoting equity, collaborating with other social-justice oriented artists, and fostering a community that recognizes this is the work of a lifetime and art - which provokes, simmers, and may even change someone’s mind - is an invaluable contribution to justice. For this project, I wish to do a piece reflecting the Land Back initiative as I currently sit on the stolen land of the Wabanaki Confederacy and their many historical tribes in addition to the four remaining. I think we are finally waking up to the issues of BIPOC rights, but the work is far from over. It would be an honor to be part of your project and contribute any way I can.
- Kris Hines Cecil
While we are taking pictures I took off my shoes and take pictures bare foot as a sign of showing respect through culture. As you know some of the cultures around the world taking off shoes showes a sign of respect.
- Eric Tuyishimire
For me, taking a knee means fighting for the triumph of justice in the world.
- Donald Pandi
My participation is to reject racism and hope for a better world for me and my children as Arab immigrants.
- Rabee Kiwan
I take a knee for those who are treated unjustly.
My taking a knee, with a smile and flexed bicep, hopefully, emanates kindness of spirit, the strength of character, and humility for my role in the community. As we all reckon with the wrongs and complexities of the past and wend our way forward into our collective future, I have the humility to know I don't have all the answers and that I need to continually, actively learn to be a true ally. I'm up for the challenge.
- Tammy Ackerman
I kneel because I care: for my country, but most of all for the people who live here. I work through music. I believe in the power of music to educate and enlighten as well as to heal.
- Jenny Van West
Love is the greatest force of nature, it is with love that we can overcome racism.
- Loia Ndikulu
"John, I took part in this project because kneeling for justice to me, is not to denigrate the flag or the national anthem, but to highlight police brutality to minorities and people of color and criminal-justice reform."
- Baresi Otieno
Monument Square in Portland Maine, is more akin to a town square. It's where we gather, protest, make happy memories, and come together. It's a central location in town where everyone can come together. By photographing here, I'm manifesting our town, our state, our country, can finally come together in unity against injustice.
- Faye Daisy
I take a knee in grief, for all we have done to ourselves and each other, while we were believing in our separateness. I take a knee to sink down into the knowing, that now is the time for our healing. Let us rise to see the sacred in each of us and all around. Let us join in building a thriving on earth. With Love!
- Krista Donoghue
"I do so in Love and Compassion for all who have had to deal with the racism full of hate and death. In hope that by the work that the "Love Factory" is doing to spread love will lead to more and more people seeing the strength of what Love has and learn to Love and not Hate."
- Love, Jacqui
"Taking a knee" originates, as I understand it, as a sign of protest during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.
The protest is because there is blatant, ongoing, and officially sanctioned racism and other injustices in our society.
I had pledged allegiance to a flag that promised "liberty and justice for all". Now that I understand that those words
are not how things truly are, I withdraw my allegiance, and kneel in solidarity with those who bear the brunt of the
worst injustices. "Until all people are free no-one is free" is not a sentimental notion, but rather, physics. And we
will prevail. As Paul Robeson said: We ask for nothing that is not right. Herein lies the great power of our demands.
Peace, and love,
- Tom Kovacevic
Kneeling is a form of protest supporters use to show they are against police brutality. I am against all the type of killings that have been happening to black people.
Kneeling means a sign of respect to the innocent people who have been murdered in this country, and protest against the continuing violence and killing towards people of color.
As a Mi’kmaq woman living on unceded Wabanaki Territory, I stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. I condemn white supremacy and the many tools utilized to oppress and kill black people. We all carry within us the blood memory of our ancestors. The time has come for the descendants of white settlers to recognize that their birthright has given them an advantage in this society. Until it is collectively examined and accepted that our society is born from violence, theft, deception, and slavery we will not heal. When we intentionally deconstruct the institutional and structural power dynamic of white supremacy that thrives on division and inequality, we lay a foundation for our children that is built on truth and understanding.
- Heater Augustine
" I kneel to pay homage to all the black and lives of color that have been lost over the centuries due to racism.
I kneel as an Arab man to show solidarity with all those who suffer from racism and social injustice.
I kneel as an American citizen who yearns to see white supremacy banished for good."
- Kifah Abdullah
Respect, respect for others, respect for oneself. Without respect there is no valid human relationship, no knowledge transfer, no exchange. You can't receive anything from someone you don't respect.
- Papy Bongibo
In reference to the death of George Floyd, taking a knee is a position of protest, of revolt against injustice, mistreatment.
- Aymar Mpouki
To ask for God's help in the face of a difficult situation that is beyond my strength, I take one knee.
This is a symbolic gesture that allows us to convey something quite powerful.
- Horlain Foukiahou
We kneel for those jailed for seeking a better life.
We kneel for those who are rescuing their children from
violence, poverty and hunger.
We kneel for separated families.
We kneel for all those detained and then deported from sites like this.
To cage people over man made borders is to imprison the earth.
#free the dirt
- Susan and Derek Smith
In my portraits, bodies of water, are the common theme that binds them together. Whether the Androscoggin River or the Atlantic Ocean, a sense of flowing is present. Although, taken while entering the winter, I chose to photograph by these Maine waters for they will never wholly freeze. The message will be sent through all seasons and at all times, and to all ports and locations throughout the country and other global locations.
The symbol of “taking a knee” as a passive stance or position is to allude to the pain and suffering of the black people. A lot of tears have been shed. They are hurt and damaged with years and years of discrimination and prejudice. In these photos, my friends, are taking a knee to send a message of stop, look, black people have been hurt and this must stop. We are sending a peaceful and respectful message that the pain must be recognized, remedied and to stop profiting off their tragedies. There is a moral obligation, as human beings, to do this. A transcendent purpose has to be fulfilled.
Water, in Tarot and the other humanities, symbolizes feelings, longings and belief; it is also a healing property and a restorer, as in baptism. Water serves as a transporter of energy. The river flows and the waves go back and forth, again and again; the tides are high and low and the water spreads in all different directions. Studies have proven that water has live energy to it. Human beings are made of energy that is flowing though each and every cell of our body. Water has the property of carrying memory and information. The flow and ebb of the water says to let it flow; flow out and come back, again and again. Water is the essence of life and so is the message that flows along to other parts, other locations, other states and countries. Let it flow; let the message flow.
- Amy Bellezza