The Question on Anthems

Belt out those lyrics, girl!

For those of you who don’t know me, I consider myself a relatively nondescript, untalented, yet unique and freethinking black man. I don’t like anyone to do their thinking for me, albeit I’m open to good advice. I like to march to the beat of my own drum and I don’t like to follow the crowd, as I think that is a shortcut to get nowhere fast. I’m not a person who likes to follow style, fad, or fashion.

As untalented as I am, every now and then I tend to inadvertently display my propensity for getting in trouble when I speak my mind. Given, I don’t do this for the sake of causing trouble, I just feel my point of view is just as valid as anyone else’s. Too many times, people tend to not appreciate my frame of mind and they let me know with their verbal version of a Muhammad Ali combination. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that the truth cramps many people’s style and it makes them uncomfortable to hear a viewpoint that’s not their own.

I’m sure some reading this article are familiar with a fish known as a salmon. Every fry (salmon baby) is born in a pool of freshwater next to a stream or river. The currents take the fry downstream until it reaches the ocean, where it spends several years developing, growing fat, and avoiding predators. If they survive those years, instinct guides them to the very streams that brought them to the ocean and, now, they must fight against the very currents that were in their favor years ago. This takes a lot of strength, determination, and stamina as swimming upstream is no easy feat. Besides fighting the current, these rascals are still in danger of predation by eagles, storks, and bears. Many won’t live to reach the very pools in which they were born. Those that make it pair off with one another to mate and spawn. Soon after their eggs are laid, the parents die and the cycle starts all over again. If there were such a thing as reincarnation (something I adamantly don’t believe in), I’d like to believe I’d come back as a salmon.

So, now that I’ve shared with you one of my personality quirks and given you a crash course in ichthyology, you may ask yourself, “What in the name of Tacoma, Washington does all this have to do with the title of this article?!” Well, this is one of those times when I may be getting myself into trouble with my fellow black folks.

In 1986, I traveled from Washington, DC to a city called Durham, NC, to attend an HBCU known as North Carolina Central University or NCCU for short. Although I am a black guy, I didn’t choose NCCU because it was predominately black. I chose to attend there simply because it was in North Carolina1, a good distance from the Nation’s Capital, a city that I wasn’t too fond of. Going through orientation and several assemblies, the students were encouraged to sing a song called Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song that I don’t recall having heard of before. The words to the tune were okay, I guess, but it wouldn’t be a song that would make my personal Top Ten Greatest Hits. In other words, I didn’t get caught up in the pride a lot of black people felt when they heard that song.

Fast-forward to several years later, and I have made Durham my personal residence. I’m working on a job when one of my coworkers blurts out that whenever a black person hears LEVAS (Lift Every Voice and Sing), that person is supposed to stop what they’re doing and stand at attention. I was kind of taken aback at his statement because I had never heard that rhetoric and, also, how dare anyone tell me that LEVAS is for all black people; as if we must dance when the Apostles of Blackness play their tune. Heck, I don’t even do that with what I believe to be the REAL national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m at a public sporting event or something similar and I hear the SSB, I’ll stand, remove my hat, and place my hand over my heart in respect to this country’s heritage. If someone refuses to stand, I understand that is that person’s right and I won’t get offended. My problem is when a person gives their reason for not standing or kneeling instead of standing. I already dealt with this subject somewhat here, but I believe I need to go into a little more detail.

When Colin Kaepernick committed his act in 2016, he made the mistake so many of his pro-black contemporaries make: pretending that he was speaking for all black people:

“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.”

Keep in mind that Kaep is biologically related to a black parent and a white one. Neither one wanted to look after him for whatever reason and he ended up getting adopted by two white folks. Without examining his childhood and early adult years, I’d say Mr. Kaepernick lived a charmed life, a privilege a lot of children don’t have the good fortune to experience. The dude even became a starting quarterback in the NFL, almost winning the Super Bowl. However, that isn’t good enough because white folks have so much power, and no accomplishment gained by black folks could ever rise above the power they wield. We have to work twice as hard in order to reach the same achievements wypipo accomplish with ease. Because of this, our achievements have to be so noticeable, and our voices have to be so much louder, in order for our white compatriots to take even the slightest notice of us. This is the reason for the recent proliferation of CRT (critical race theory) and black culture in mainstream media. We are here, doggone it, and you will notice us! We are black people, hear us ROAR!

So, this brings me to this year’s Super Bowl (LVII), a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles. It would have a personal distinction with me because it would be the first game I watched in its entirety since Super Bowl LIV, which would be 3 years. Read this article to understand why.

Anyway, when the day of the Super Bowl arose, I had absolutely no plans to watch it. Deep down, I longed to suppress my conscience and just watch it anyway. However, being a person who likes to stick to his guns, that wasn’t going to happen…until I went to church that morning. On my way out, an elderly gentleman my wife and I had gotten to know over the past couple of years came up to me and whispered in my ear, “Vincent, could you help me root for my Kansas City Chiefs today?” Before I could even think, I said “Sure.” I would have backed the Chiefs anyway, because they had been one of my favorite teams before my personal boycott of the NFL and I supported them when they played the 49ers in the big game three years previously. Being a man of my word, I told myself “I guess I’m watching the Super Bowl tonight.” Making that decision showed me why my ban of the NFL will continue.

Our good, ol’ buddies at The Root posted an article recently titled If Lift Every Voice Has Got to Go, Then So Do These, subtitled, Why, during Black History Month no less, are white people still insisting there should only be ONE National Anthem? In this article, the author calls out “white hypocrisy:

One week after Super Bowl LVII has come and gone, there still seems to be significant social media chatter surrounding Sheryl Lee Ralph’s historic performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the masterpiece written by James Weldon Johnson and composed by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, in 1900. Despite some time passing, white folks’ voices are still rising in opposition to the so-called Black National Anthem being sung at the storied event, calling it “divisive,” “unnecessary,” and even racist—although there is no mention of race in the entire song, unlike the Star Spangled Banner (check the third stanza).

Which white people are they talking about? Is it the majority? Do they dislike the song because it was written and sung by black folks? Are there white folks calling for an actual ban to the song?

Side note: On January 27, 1991, Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem and made that song her song. Had there been a roof on the stadium, Miss Houston would have been guilty of murder because girlfriend would have brought the roof down, killing everyone in attendance. I have yet to hear one white person complain about her singing that song nor one black person accuse her of cultural appropriation. But I digress.

Do I think LEVAS is divisive, unnecessary, and even racist? Let me ask you this: Which song has been declared the anthem for an entire race? America? America the Beautiful? God Bless America? I have heard of one song being dedicated to an entire race of people and that song is The National Black Anthem (LEVAS). None of the other songs make one mention of race, though the Apostles of Blackness will twist certain words to make you think so. The only reason anyone is against the song is because it’s divisive, unnecessary, and, yes, racist. It isn’t only white folks who disagree with the inclusion of the song during sporting events. Yours truly (the author of this article) is vehemently against it being sung at sporting events because all it does is pacify a certain group of people in the name of “inclusion.”

Shortly before the Big Game, actress/singer Sheryl Lee Ralph comes to the center of the field and it is announced that she will be singing the National Black Anthem, and I was reminded of why I no longer watch NFL games, that Sunday being an exception. She sang it pretty well, I guess, but the song didn’t move me as much as others because I’m not one who takes pride in his skin color.

Going back to the above excerpt from The Root, the third stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner makes no mention of any racial group. It mentions the word “slave” and that’s where the Apostle of Blackness get their panties in a bind. Now, there is much debate about why its composer, Francis Scott Key, included that phrase in his song, but there is no distinction that it has racist connotations. Liberal mainstream black America is notorious for getting triggered at certain words they deem “racist.”

Of course, LEVAS has its critics as does anything that makes an appearance in the public square. Certain powers-that-be refer to the song as “divisive” and they do have a point. LMBA (Liberal Mainstream Black America) interprets this as a call by white people to ban The National Black Anthem. Personally, I haven’t heard of one person calling for its ban and its critics simply state we don’t need two national anthems; which is why “journalists” at The Root felt compelled to write the above ludicrous article.

Not long ago, I attended a graduation at a Christian academy. Being that the school is 99% black, they felt the need to play LEVAS to which everyone stood…everyone, that is, except me. I will never stand for that song and, even if I did, I won’t sing it. To me, the song has come to symbolize the division that threatens to tear this country apart. As a black person who sees himself as 100% American, I can’t with a solid conscience stand for that. I know LMBA will have a problem with it and call me all those cute names they reserve for black folks who don’t think like them, but that’s their problem, not mine. They balk at the criticism they receive when they won’t stand for The National Anthem, but don’t like it when one of “theirs” won’t do the same for the Black National Anthem. Can you say double standards, boys and girls? I can.

By the way, can anyone please show me a country that has two national anthems? I’ll wait…

You all have a good day and I’ll see you on the rebound.

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