Screw the national anthem
After what happened in Ferguson, I can’t pretend the promise of that song extends to a black man like me
Sep. 30 2014
I hit a basketball game the other day. Hundreds packed into the stands and around the court as the DJ silenced the music. A bouncy, colorful dude approached center-court and requested that we stand for the national anthem. A delicate teenage Whitney Houston type approached the mic.
Everyone popped up ⎯ blacks and whites alike, all with straight backs and erect necks ⎯ their right palms Velcroed to their hearts. Military silence blanketed the crowd as the little girl blessed us all with her voice.
I stayed seated and just played on my iPhone during her entire performance. Some people looked at me, I yawned in their direction, stretched in my seat and looked back at them. I was itching for someone to say something stupid like, “Pay some respect. Stand for the anthem.” So I could’ve broke my mug down and yelled, “Man, fuck you and the anthem!”
I would’ve proudly hollered that at the top of my lungs because obviously I don’t fit the mold. Even though I was born in America and my ancestors built its infrastructure for free ⎯ I’m not a part of the “Our” when they sing, “Our flag was still there!” I feel like the “Our” doesn’t include blacks, most women, gays, trans and poor people of all colors.
And sadly our nation reminds us every day.
Some may reject the anthem because Francis Scott Key sang for freedom while enslaving blacks. His hatred even bled into the lyrics of the elongated version of “The Star Spangled Banner” you won’t hear at a sporting event. The third stanza reads …
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave”
That line was basically a shot at the slaves who agreed to fight with the British in exchange for their freedom. Who wouldn’t want freedom, and how could he not understand them opting out for a better life?
A life free of mass whippings, rape and unpaid labor. Andrew Jackson caught wind of slaves agreeing to fight with the British in exchange for freedom and made a similar promise to thousands of slaves in Louisiana. He told them if they protected Louisiana, they could be free after the war. Well, we won the war, and then Jackson reneged on the deal. He went on to be president while the brave Africans who fought with honor went back into servitude.