The US National Anthem: should African Americans salute it?

Our melanated brothers and sisters in America, should not be saluting to the national anthem for two main reasons: 1) the non-existing institutional protection and acknowledgement, and 2) the hidden history which inspired the song in the first place.

National anthems are supposed to symbolise the pride you have for your country. As a melanated African living on American soil, where white American police officers are murdering our melanated brothers and sisters left, right and centre, how can you expect to FEEL proud of America? The police are not protecting, they are murdering. The law is not prosecuting, it is delivering injustice. The government are not intervening, they are turning a blind eye. The education system is not teaching the truth, it is white-washing it.

Almost no one seems to be aware of the history of the anthem, which isn’t surprising as American education does not seek to inform the masses of its historical atrocities. How many of us even know that when Americans stand for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, they are literally celebrating the murder of African-Americans?

“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 trans-Atlantic slave trade was still in existence during 1814. Francis Scott Key, the writer of the anthem, owned enslaved African-Americans. He was an anti-abolitionist and he called Africans a ‘distinct and inferior race of people’. And America expects African-Americans to hold their hand over their heart for this?

Some might say it’s just words. Well, words are powerful. Because when you are forever told that you are inferior, you will believe it. So to have a song on this national scale, which still holds these lyrics, is America retaining its racist ideology.

Collin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem. Gabby Douglas didn’t put her hand on her heart at the Rio Olympics. Both were criticised and both are melanated. When it’s our people they are treated as if they have offended God himself, yet there are plenty of white Americans who do exactly the same thing and nobody says anything. Why? Because America is a white nation where white supremacy rules and serves white people - even the ones who don’t bother to salute to its national anthem. But when you are black you are punished for it, as we have always been for our blackness, and as soon as we stand up for our blackness we are attacked, as if we have committed a crime. This is no crime. This is our defiance. This is an acknowledgment of our discontent with the anthem and America.

Kaepernick has faced death threats but he has demonstrated that America is the land of lies and corruption, because it defends the killers and not the victims. Since Kaepernick stood his ground, many more unarmed black men and women have been killed, including the disabled.

Although, many refuse to understand what is going on and the importance of it, we need to realise that this is more than a national anthem. It stems from America's dark history, which shouldn't be hailed as great. America was built on oppression, a trend that continues to this very day. We, as melanated people, stand with Kaepernick, in our quest to defeat institutional racism and the systematic genocide of our people.