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6 Special Feature Cerritos High School

October 31, 2016

Should you always stand for the national anthem?




After a sniper in Dallas murdered five police officers in July of this year, a woman protesting in Washington D.C. held up a sign saying, “stop killing us.” But what does that mean? Who is “us”? The deaths of African-Americans such as Eric Garner have been tragic, but so were those of Officer Patricio Zamarripa and Officer Brent Thompson. A black man, who in his fury over recent police shootings, decided to kill multiple innocent officers who were preparing to protect the participants of a largely black protests, killed these officers. So who are the real victims, solely African-Americans or innocent Americans as a whole? When that woman held up her sign, she called on police officers to stop killing African-Americans. I believe Americans should stop killing Americans. This is also why, if I were an athlete, I would not protest violence by kneeling during the national anthem. I have a huge amount of respect for those athletes who are exercising their right to protest peacefully and I would never call on them to stand if they feel as though they should not. However, I do believe that this protest sends the wrong message. A young African-American can’t possibly see Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneeling while the rest of their teammates stand and think “unity” or “togetherness.” These protests that show African-Americans separating themselves from others goes against the trust that is needed to avoid the divisiveness that have split us on issues involving racism. From the Civil War to Rodney King, race is our strongest divide and sensitivity should be included in all forms of protest involving these issues.


The national anthem, known as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was written in 1814, during the time of slavery, by Francis Scott Key. This song signifies the United States independence and Key’s enticement of the american flag. The last two lines in the first verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” are “ 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 ended with a question that never really gets answered. Not only does this add suspense, but it also intrigues the listener into thinking whether America truly is the home of the free. The answer is no. America is not free, and it definitely wasn’t free when it was written in the year 1814, when there were over 12 million slaves living on plantations. Not only that, but our very own writer, Francis Scott Key, was the “scion of Maryland’s slave-holding aristocracy.” He himself, was born to a wealthy clan on the plantation of Terra Rubra. This made me speculate on as to whether “land of the free” referred only towards those who were non-colored and wealthy. If the United States of America is the “land” that he is referring to at that point in time, than the statement of “land of the free” is invalid. If America is the land of the free, why are we still experiencing racial oppression?

“Kaepernick’s protest has merely started a conversation about him, not one that addresses critical disagreements amongst us.”

Admittedly, I will never be able to understand this problem from the perspective of an African-American. Knowing that your son, husband, uncle or father may undeservingly become the next victim of police brutality is an entirely different situation than expressing your view from a neutral perspective. However, Kaepernick’s protest has merely started a conversation about him, not one that addresses the critical disagreements amongst us. Kaepernick chose to protest alone, unlike the Seattle Seahawks who decided to protest as a team by locking arms, and we can’t change that. But, we can change this national conversation to how we can improve relations between different races, the police force and the public, as well as with public figures who attempt to use their platform to express their opinion on controversial topics.

In the light of events, slavery was abolished in 1865 with the 13th amendment to the U.S constitution. Since than, racism has still been alive and well. There have been many cases in which names of black men and women have turned into streaming hashtags across social media due to the careless acts of white officers; names such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Korryn Gaines. Why should we as African Americans stand up and put pride into a flag for a country that puts our lives at stake?

Recently, a now-starter for the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem. He said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Since then, many other athletes have joined Kaepernick with kneeling or sitting during the national anthem. “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,” said Kaepernick.

“If America is the land of the free, why are we still experiencing racial oppression?”

With that being said, I hope that all people continue to protest the tragic violence involving police in our country if they feel the need to do so, but that we do it while expressing togetherness and unity as Americans, not superiority or separation.

I, too, agree with Kaepernick, that you should not stand for the national anthem. Yes, it’s used to honor those who are fighting for our country and to pay your respects: however, you give what you get. If we aren’t given respect, in return others will not get it from us. You should only stand for what you believe in.

Do you support Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest? Of the 245 CHS students surveyed in the quad:

78% Yes 22% No

Photo courtesy AP

October 2016 Special Feature  
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