And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I am not a history buff. However, I realize and recognize the importance of understanding historical context and how that may affect perspectives today.
The star spangled banner, the national anthem of the United States of America, was written in 1814. Written by Francis Scott Key, the anthem was inspired by the Key’s observation of the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. History reports that Key looked on at an American flag (star spangled banner) with pride as the Americans had victory.
So it’s 1814.
Here are few important historical contexts to comprehend:
- The U.S. is being built on the backs of black slaves at this time. Francis Scott Key himself had slaves; the author of our national anthem had slaves. Important to recognize.
- We are 49 years away from the Emancipation Proclamation in which President Lincoln will declare “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” And let’s not pretend for a moment that things were actually equal after the Emancipation Proclamation OR that they are now.
- European colonizers are stealing land from the land’s indigenous at this time. Literally. Land is being stolen and cultural genocide is happening.
Fellow white people:
can you understand now why someone may not be so inclined to sing the national anthem?
Why is it ok for Donald Trump’s campaign slogan to be a criticism of American (make America great again) but YET when a person of color criticizes this country—not ok??
Why is it that people are burning the jersey of a San Francisco 49ers player because he refused to stand up for the national anthem? Colin Kaepernick said, “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent…I’ll stand.” Word.
To you, fellow white people, the national anthem may lead to a sense of pride and patriotism. But we must always remember: at what cost have those things come? Or- was everyone experiencing the freedoms we are celebrating?
You could very easily go back to my post about the fourth of july and why everyone may not celebrate; this is very similar.
So before you burn another jersey, perhaps stop and think critically.
Why might this person feel that way?
What can I do with my white privilege to be an ally and supporter? For one, stop burning the fucking jersey; that is also just shitty for the environment and smells terrible.
As I have stated before, I will never blindly be a patriot to anyone or anything. That does not mean that I am not thankful to live here. That does mean I will openly criticize the United States in both past and present contexts.
If you’ve read all of this and still want to go burn a jersey, i’ll have my mama add you to her prayer list (again). And then I will encourage you to read Peggy McIntosh, Tim Wise, Audre Lorde, and every book in this article.
I have said this a million times but I will always say it again: acknowledging you have white privilege does not mean you don’t have hard times or a hard life. It does mean, however, that your challenges are not due to your race.
This post has largely focused on the historical context of why an individual may not want to sing or stand up for the national anthem. There are many reasons, including those of Kaepernick, why someone may feel that the flag does not represent freedom today. I didn’t really delve into this too much in this post because it deserves its own post. Eventually, let’s talk about police brutality and violence against people of color, incarceration rates, literacy, poverty, etc. Maybe even do a little research of your own and get back to me; let’s talk.
Now let’s sit back, eat some chicken wings, and binge on some guac as we partake in America’s favorite pastime, football. Because let’s be real: the food is the only reason I show up, anyway.
Peace and love, y’all. Spread it around.