Race, The World, Social Justice

The star spangled banner does not celebrate my people

I fully support Kaepernick's choice to sit down during the national anthem because I have done that before myself.

This whole national controversy over Colin Kaepernick choosing to sit down during the national anthem at a football game is starting to get out of hand, and is a true testament of our country’s need for improvement.

Those who are hating on Kaepernick and saying that he’s disrespecting our military don’t understand our country’s history and the intricate struggles of oppressed people. Many assume that it’s a part of ancient history, but it’s really not.

It only seems that way because of the way history is portrayed in American history books at most schools. In this case, I blame the education system in the U.S. for sanitizing history and creating this crazy sense of patriotism that has citizens thinking that anyone who dares to point out the injustices of this country is not a patriot.

I fully support Kaepernick’s choice to sit down during the national anthem because I have done that before myself. The Star Spangled Banner portrays Americans as brave and heroic. They’re made out to be idols for conquering the British and ultimately, all other groups of people to get to where they are today.

Murdering, enslaving, and colonizing is not ‘brave’ or ‘heroic.’ Stepping all over other groups of people for power and wealth isn’t admirable. They may have done it for freedom, but their methods for attaining it was and is atrocious. And this is not what I stand for.

My Native American community is still in poverty, has inadequate education on the reservations, inadequate health care, and has the highest suicide rate compared to any other ethnic group in the U.S. This is all a result of America’s history. We’re still trying to recover. We’re still trying to heal. We’re just trying to live. But it’s hard to try to move forward when there is a mentality in the U.S. that criticizes any oppressed peoples’ attempt to overcome their systematic struggles.

I’m still in my early twenties, and I shouldn’t be able to say that I’ve already lost peers to suicide or from the results of some social ailment that was wrought by genocide and colonization. Native people die young all the time. This is something that hurts me. And this is why I do not stand, and why I will not dare put my hand over my heart during the national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner does not celebrate my people. It celebrates the death of my people, as well as other groups.

This country has not yet achieved greatness.

I applaud Kaepernick for taking advantage of his platform and using it to shed light on the truths of our country, because I don’t think healing will ever occur in the oppressed until we stop pretending history didn’t happen.

  • Maya Williams

    Maya Williams has her Bachelor’s in Social Work and Bachelor’s in English from East Carolina University. She also has her Master’s in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social justice from the University of New England. She has published articles and poems on sites such as The Tempest, INTER, Black Girl Nerds, Multiracial Media, GlitterMOB, and Soft Cartel. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry, facilitating writing workshops for youth, and watching movies/musicals.

  • Rosalia Badhorse is a 23 year old Native American whose roots are tied to the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana. She has a Business Administration degree from La Salle University and had a minored in Human Services as well. Rosalia is a full time Career Counselor, and founder of the Powwow Project – Northern Cheyenne Youth Initiative, and a part-time writer. Overall, her aspiration in life is to dedicate her professional life to serving and empowering Native American communities in whatever shape or form possible.