Opting Out Of The Anthem: A Way To Raise Awareness On America’s Problems

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Edric Parker, Opinions Editor

Recently, there is a new trend of opting out of our National Anthem by getting on one knee or sitting instead of standing up to the flag. It originated in the NFL by San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. When asked about the incident in a post-game interview with NFL.com’s Steve Wyche, Kaepernick stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black People and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Overall, his inspiration for protesting is to bring awareness to police officers killing people of color on camera and getting paid leave instead of charged with murder. The issue has now gotten national attention and has sparked much debate. What some see as a disrespectful act, others view as a peaceful protest to the injustice still plaguing our nation. So where’s the problem? Many see it as disrespect to soldiers serving our country, but honestly, how disrespectful is it really? There’s no flag burning or any riots occurring when protesters do it, and if the purpose is to help better our nation, then there really shouldn’t be an issue. Our soldiers fight to support our constitutional right to speak out about our beliefs. If the protesters were just anti-American and spreading a hateful agenda,  that would be different, but the background behind the protest is for a positive cause. There is no denying that America has struggled to create a nation free of injustice and equality. It’s in our nation’s history, and in some parts it’s still our nation’s reality. If you don’t believe so, then you should take a closer look at the lyrics in our National Anthem. The first verse is the only part that the public ever pays attention to because it is the most famous part, so people tend to ignore the rest of the song. We have all learned about the story of Francis Scott-Key aboard a British Ship during the War of 1812, but here is some background on the author of our nation’s national anthem. He was a bigot who believed that blacks were inferior and since they were inferior, their masters should treat them more kindly because they don’t understand punishment. Scott-Key supported prejudice ideas such as sending any free-blacks back to Africa and keeping all slaves in America.  This is the third stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner:

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 footsteps 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.

Overall, it praises the death of runaway slaves who fled to the British army during the war to fight for their freedom. It states that their blood being on the battlefield will wash away the pollution caused by the British. Pretty harsh right? So could you honestly blame African-Americans for not wanting to show respect to the National Anthem after learning its history and its message to blacks who were only trying to gain their freedom?

  In every part of our nation at least one group of people are targeted and discriminated against, this ranges from religion to race to sexual preference. Muslims are constantly accused of being affiliated with terrorists, Hispanics are widely accused of being “illegal immigrants” and  it’s become popular thanks to a complete imbecile who’s running for president (but that’s a different story). There are certain parts of the south where blacks are still not allowed to go into, due to the white supremacist groups that run rampant in those areas, and there aren’t any laws against them. Over the summer of 2016, following the 4th of July, the most prideful American holiday we have, several men were killed on camera by police back to back in the days following and the officers involved went unpunished on paid administrative leave. So are the people who protest justified to do so? Absolutely.

  Since Kaepernick has started protesting, according to Complex News, there have been 15 deaths due to police brutality. He has received backlash, harsh criticism, racial slurs, and death threats. But think about his reasoning behind the protest. There have been 142 unarmed black people killed by police since the death of Michael Brown (who was also killed by police) on August 9, 2014. There was recently a police killing on September 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma because an officer shot a 40-year old unarmed man named Terence Crutcher who was waiting for assistance since his car broke down. He was no way affiliated with their purpose for being there, and shouldn’t have been targeted. Compare that to another recent incident on September 19 in New York with a terrorist, 28-year old Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was wanted for a bombing attempt and a suspect for bomb incidents in both New York and New Jersey. He was an obvious threat who opened fire on police and hit several officers, but he was apprehended in 4 hours by police alive. For those who don’t understand why people are mad and don’t want to pledge allegiance to our flag, you should be able to see the problem by now, and it’s getting out of hand. Let’s be honest about what is clearly wrong with the situation. Ask yourself, how does an unarmed man waiting for help get shot down and killed on camera while an attacking, armed terrorist lives to see another day?

 If standing for the National Anthem is so important then how come players didn’t start standing for the Anthem until 2009? According to a morning interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN First Take, in the years prior to 2009, NFL players would just stay in their locker rooms until the song was over. The NFL then started making players get out and stand for the Anthem because seeming patriotic was good for business. The NFL is also payed millions of dollars by the Department Of Defense and the National Guard in order to convince more people to enlist. So before you think about bashing players such as Kaepernick for not standing, you have to keep in mind that nobody was standing for the National Anthem until the NFL started getting paid for patriotism.


If this isn’t the way to bring about change and awareness, what is?