Lost in Translation?
By nature I am a researcher. I enjoy history and looking into the past and finding its relation to the present. In sport, I am a fan but also a nerd. I enjoy stats, the coaching and administration of sport. The business that goes on behind closed doors intrigues me. When you combine the fan, nerd, and researcher together the end result is a Doctorate in Sports Administration. This is when I tell you I am true to my nature within the world of sports. Why is this background important? I hope it will shed light on the topic that everyone is discussing. The flag, the anthem, and kneeling. Of course their has been many articles and news stories on this topic so I do not expect mines to be the gold standard but just the researcher point of view. Is there bias in my approach or take on this subject? You tell me.
First let me start with a word that is being thrown around in regards to this topic.. Patriotism.
Patriotism as defined by Webster is love or devotion for one's country.
Let' s talk about this for a minute. Can you love something and still be critical of it? I believe so. What about devotion? This is where it gets tricky.
Devotion as defined by Webster is the fact of being ardently dedicated and loyal.
This is where I would question most people who question other people's patriotism. I would ask is EVERYTHING you own American made? Do you follow or believe in EVERYTHING in the constitution? Do you always vote in EVERY election, especially the local ones? Do you honor EVERY American holiday or day of remembrance? Do you respect EVERY American citizens rights? Do you give to charity or send some type of aide in EVERY national disaster in the country? Are you concerned about the education of ALL children in the country?
If you answered yes to all of these well I guess you are Captain America because I know it is not possible to be this person EVERY single day. That is a full-time job. It is unrealistic but that is devotion defined right? This is not my measuring stick for being patriotic. I think patriotism is shown in many forms, therefore you cannot judge if someone is lacking or not showing patriotism. It is different for everybody. You can be an American citizen and love your country but be critical of it. This does not mean you are ungrateful. You can be a Patriot and not buy American made 100% of the time. It doesn't mean you are not invested in your country. There are different ways to get to the same result. For example, 2+2=4 but so does 1+3.
Enough of the mathematics and vocabulary. Let us take a look in the history books for a minute.
The American Flag- It is believed by some historians the flag was designed by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson and sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman officially declared June 14 as Flag Day (http://www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth/history/old-glory/).
There are some guidelines that come with displaying the flag as well as some proclamations of where it should be displayed as well. The flag should be displayed daily and on holidays at buildings of public institutions, schools, and polling places on election days. When the flag is raised or lowered at a parade or ceremony, everyone is suppose to face the flag and put their right hand over their heart (http://www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth/history/old-glory/).
How many of us knew all of this already without having to go to google? I will admit. I did not. That is why I love the research. But real quick, did you notice it said NOTHING about standing. It said face the flag and right hand over heart. Most people do not even place their right hand over the heart. I'm guessing they just didn't know that was a part of the process. My point is sometimes we need to do our own research before you listen to others telling you what is required. Think about it, are you going to buy a house without doing research? If so, I would like to meet you because I have a couple of houses that are in perfect condition (wink, wink).
The National Anthem- The Star Spangled Banner lyrics come form a poem written by a lawyer Francis Scott Key in 1814 during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. In 1889, the Navy officially started using it and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson ordered the Star Spangled Banner to be played at military events and other appropriate occasions. In 1931 it was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-story-behind-the-star-spangled-banner-149220970/).
The Lyrics- O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
The song is actually longer if you look at the entire poem, which can be easily found on the internet. How many of you knew when the song was written? Where the song was written? Who wrote the song? The writer's profession? Did you know it was a poem and the song is an exert from the poem? How many of you knew what war the song was born from? And truly when you sing the song, what is it talking about? Did you know black people were still slaves when the song was written? Yes slavery "ended" in 1865 and I uses "ended" as sarcastically as possible. Did you know during the times of 1916 and 1931 when the song was given even more importance black people didn't have basic rights and liberties? Did you know in 2017 black people are still trying to get treated as equals? See now I am about to get into topics most want to ignore, but I will hold off just a little longer.
The Pledge of Allegiance- Written in 1892 by the Socialist minister Francis Bellamy for the use of citizens in ANY country. In 1923, the United States of America was added. In 1953 "under God" was added (http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm).
The Pledge of Allegiance reads: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Did you know between the years of 1892-1953, black people in America were no where close to liberty and justice for all?
Now let's get real and make some people uncomfortable. The conversation nobody is willing to have is the focus on the social injustice that people of color face every day. Why does this make people uncomfortable? Well, people have to look at themselves and realize how they contribute to it by ignoring the topic or if they actually encourage it with their every day actions. The purpose of me breaking down the American Flag, the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance was to point out the times they were brought into existence and what was going on in the country. During these times black people had no rights. Black people were slaves or fighting to get basic rights. Rights that included being able to vote, use any bathroom, eat in any restaurant, not get harassed by police just because the color of your skin. The history between black people and the United States runs deep. A white person can never understand. You never were enslaved, kept from simple rights, hosed down in the streets, and had great leaders killed for speaking out. The love of country for white people is different. Black people have a love/hate relationship. Yes, things have changed but in many ways they still remain the same. There is still oppression. It is done in different ways. If you are not black and not concerned, you will not know. Black people are policed differently. Black people know the difference even if a white person does not.
The points I make are to educate those who feel a protest by individuals kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful or wrong. The Flag is suppose to represent justice for all. The pledge says it. When we pledge our allegiance to the flag you are stating justice for all. Well not really. Black people in the United States do not get that benefit. There is plenty of injustice that's geared directly toward black people. Watch the news, watch how black people are policed, and oh say the names of many black people who have been killed by police. Colin Kaepernick took a knee in a personal and silent protest for social injustice. He was asked why he sat or took a knee. He did not come out and make a statement. Someone asked and he spoke his truth. He took a knee because he could not stand and take that pride in the country who "prides" itself in justice for all, when all are not afforded that justice. If you do a little research, you could understand how his silent protest relates to the anthem and the flag. It does not matter if he is poor or rich as some have
suggested he should be grateful he is able to play football and make the amount of money he has made. The only thing that matters is that he sees the truth. Love of country should not blind you from its imperfections.
There is no right way to show devotion to your country and outside of violence there is no wrong way to show disappointment. Know the facts of the country. The history of its flag, anthem, pledge, and ALL the people.
In order to progress to a place of understanding and peace between different groups of people we must listen to their story and know their pain or issues. A physician can't help a wounded individual without knowing where the wound is. The issues that divides us have NEVER been addressed. I will be bias in saying that not addressing the issue really belongs to one side. Black people are willing to educate and explain what it is like to be black in America. The other side has to be willing to listen. From my experience ears are closed and opinions are strong. To be called ungrateful is unfair. Black people are very grateful for the opportunities that we have but they are earned more than any other race in America will ever understand. As a black person in America you can't be good, you have to be great, you can't be smart, you have to be brilliant, you always have to do more to show your worth. To who? A country that seems to devalue you plight every moment it gets. If we march in peace we are wrong, if we riot we are wrong, if we do a sit-in we are wrong, if we take a knee we are disrespectful and wrong. The issue was never about the military, flag or anthem, it was about the symbolism of what they are suppose to represent to all people in the United States and how the symbol has failed many. If you are not one who has been failed you will not understand.
In closing, the flag and anthem mean a lot to many people. So here is food for thought. Why are the KKK, white supremacist, etc, raising and presenting it in their marches or gatherings? Just take a look at some past and present pictures. If i take pride in the flag, anthem, and allegiance I would be more concerned with individuals who use these symbols to insight hate than those who are searching for what these symbols are suppose to stand for which is freedom and justice for all. Or maybe I am confused and all of this is just lost in translation.