How can we have a national anthem in a divided country?
By now you have probably heard that Fox Sports will no longer be airing footage of the national anthem before NFL games. But I ask you, who won?
If baseball players in the postseason start protesting, will this trend continue? And by not airing the national anthem are you respecting the protest or staying out of the politics? For so long, I have heard (white) people speak of the power of peaceful protest, and I cannot remember a time when I didn’t immediately think of Rosa Parks, Selma, and now, kneeling during the National Anthem. Why is this any different?
Why are these players not allowed to protest in the most powerful way they have? The Star Spangled Banner is played before every single sporting event in America. Every single player, coach, and fan is expected to stand, remove their caps, place their hands over their hearts, face the flag, and sing along. However, what if you don’t believe what you are singing? Why should you do it anyway simply because that is what is expected of you? What if you start thinking about 1814 America? What if while you are singing, you remember that the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t final until 1863 and you picture ancestors you never met sweating in the fields mid-verse? Would you keep singing? I didn’t, that day.
Yes, you read that correctly, it happened to me and I stopped singing and instead started reflecting on what the song meant. This happened years ago, this happened before Black Lives Matter; before police shootings were at the forefront of the news. People did not just start feeling like this in response to police shootings. People finally got sick of watching it happen. I am a black woman in America, and I understand that I am far more privileged than black men in America. And yet, I still do not have all of the luxuries of a white woman or a white man. There is a racial and gender hierarchy in this country that needs to be broken, and it is about more than watching innocent black men get gunned down.
I hope that you have seen comparisons of news headlines when a black man commits a crime versus a white man. I won’t get into that now, its outside the scope of this post. But you should take some time to look into it. You should educate yourself on the disparity in treatment that exists in this country. Each and every day I am thankful for what I have, and it is simply because I have lived to another die. I haven’t been sacrificed by anybody else’s hands, I haven’t been stopped at work or at home from chasing my dreams. I have been given an opportunity to carry on. I was given an opportunity many black men were not given. I cannot kneel or link arms on television once a week, but a professional sport dominated by black men (70%, HuffingtonPost, 2016), please do not try to silence them. This country has done enough of that over the past 250 years.