Racial turmoil and tensions continue to boil over in this country . Police brutality and oppression against those of color are almost a regular occurring event. In a show of “peaceful ” protest, Colin Kapernick, an athlete continues to kneel, instead of standing for the national anthem….. How could he disrespect the flag in that manner, some have asked… or He is a traitor to his country, others have said….or Thats a slap in the face of the millions of veterans who fought for and lost their lives for this country. How can he get away with this??? Well my mission is to explain and clarify the reason and agenda behind those actions as well as to show what the american flag truly represents and means for African-Americans. in order to do that, we must first look at the origin and the words behind the “National” Anthem…
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 about the American victory at the Battle of Fort McHenry. We only sing the first verse, but Key penned three more. This is the third verse:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The mere mention of “slave” is not entirely remarkable; slavery was alive and well in the United States in 1814. Key himself owned slaves, was an anti-abolitionist and once called his African brethren “a distinct and inferior race of people
of these lyrics contend Key was in fact taking pleasure
in the deaths of freed black slaves who had decided to fight with the British against the United States.
So in essence, we are encouraged to salute and pay homage to a flag and anthem that does not value or equate African-American as equal in the first place. The ‘National” Anthem, a symbol of patriotic pride and beacon of freedom…. but for whom??? When this liberating manifesto was penned, African American were enslaved, sold to the highest bidders, hunted when escape was attempted, women raped and men forced to witness slave owners have multiple children with their women.. all in the sake of preserving business and commerce….Lets fast forward…the argument that disrespecting those who fought and laid their lives down for freedom is relative to who was afforded those freedoms…. Understand that African American fought bravely and valiantly side by side against fellow solders but were not even afforded the right and freedoms that they fought for . Donald Trump , in a speech yesterday stated that everyone should respect the flag….respect a flag that symbolizes freedoms and liberties that african americans were not given access to? a flag that set about centuries of systematic oppression of the African American family, by denying the same educational, economic and civil rights that others have long since enjoyed… or a flag that condoned the widespread lynchings, murders, of African-Americans while engaging in peaceful demonstration of protest for their civil rights?? But thats in the past…right….why can’t we just move forward….its time to get over it….or like the military term says…Suck it up and keep trucking….. Well thats sounds great for someone who has never experienced these atrocities…thats great for those who don’t experience racial profiling as an everyday occurrence…Hall of Fame NFL player, Mike Ditka issued these comments towards Kapernick and his kneeling during the National Anthem:
“I think it’s a problem … anybody who disrespects this country and the flag,” Ditka, an ESPN analyst, said during a radio interview Friday with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “If they don’t like the country they don’t like our flag … get the hell out.”
“I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick — he probably has no respect for me, that’s his choice,” he added. “My choice is, I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.”
Mike Ditka….where have you been??? i guess you have not seen rapid fire killings of Black males by Law Enforcement, while Caucasian perpetrators of the same or similar offense are detained alive, or the mass incarcerations that have taken place over decades, and in thousands of cases, wrongful imprisonment…. but Mike, I understand…you don’t see these atrocities, because you dont live them daily. In writing this post, my goal is not to incite a further racial divide, but to bring awareness to a problem that has been happening for so long and to bring clarity on why Colin Kapernick chose to take his stand or his case ..take his kneel. He chose to kneel not to disrespect his country and the flag, but out of the love of a country that has failed to acknowledge the change needed to make this country a better place for everyone.