With each week of American football, Americans angst toward San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his sympathizers grows. America and many Americans remain stupefied, inebriated by their hateful hearts. Many view Kaepernick’s protest as un-American and un-patriotic. But to reject his protest is actually both un-American and un-patriotic.
At the center of the protest is America’s recent treatment of black men at the hands of police officers and blacks in general. The protest did nothing to curtail murders by police officers, but has seemingly spurred them on. Terence Crutcher, Tyre King, Keith Scott and Alfred Olango are unarmed casualties of officer involved shootings that have made the news within the past two weeks. Still, the protest and protests of the protest rage on.
It was Edmund Burke who said: “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” This same Edmund Burke was in favor of the American colonies, which leads to the precipice of this articles revelation-a gentleman by the name of Crispus Attucks was the first casualty of the Revolutionary War. Yes, that revolutionary war. The one that made America a nation.
Attucks, a black man died in the skirmish that touched off the war in 1770. Crispus Attucks was a noble man, dexterous and highly intelligent. His legend is bolstered by the claim that an ad seeking his capture and return to his slave master was placed in the Boston Gazette. America is a nation of firsts, so why isn’t there more homage paid to the legacy of Attucks?
“Land of the free and the home of the brave?” It’s pathetically paradoxical to continue to call this great nation what Francis Scott Key did in that 1814 writing, now observed as the national anthem. Key was a brutal slave master and many Americans have only recently discovered the infamous third stanza which is almost always omitted when sung. Who was free during the war of 1812? Who was brave? It begs to question whether or not the slaves fighting with the British were the brave ones and not those of the newly formed nation, America.
During the war of 1812; many slaves escaped and fought for the British in hopes of earthly freedom, but even that came with a price. The British welcomed black sailors but discouraged any uprising in America for fear that it would spread to other British colonies. Not even helping to secure a British victory carried a true promise of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. Slaves who didn’t escape and fight alongside the British were forced into battle as colonial marines.
Americans who oppose Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem need a real history lesson, much like America. Patriotism didn’t begin after 1776, it was already there. When Crispus Attucks joined the skirmish outside a Boston pub, it was already there. Crispus Attucks died by a gunshot but could have lived longer than the age of 27 but in shackles as a slave. That was America. Today, though much has changed, and much still has not.
Perhaps a better national anthem for America would be “Amazing Grace”. Penned by a slave trader who was later converted to Christendom, John Newton. It was this enlightenment that gradually apprised Newton of the grace upon his life despite yielding to a reckless lifestyle and participating in the Atlantic slave trade. Famously, he shared his regeneration in a pamphlet entitled “Thoughts on the Slave Trade”: “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”
Newton as a believer was an abolitionist and his pamphlet’s popularity was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in Great Britain as it was formally outlawed in 1807. Newton not only changed his ways he was instrumental to the destruction of what made in retrospect made his heart ‘shudder.’ A self-proclaimed Christian nation, where is that level of righteousness in America?
With each police death and instance of systemic racism bolstered by the fallacy of white supremacy, black Americans face the same quandary slaves did during the war of 1812. Is the open protest a panacea to prevent it from reaching pandemic status? Sure Americans are well within their rights to protest but what if it spreads? What if blacks in other nations stand or take a proverbial knee fighting injustice against people of color in their country?
America is a nation of firsts. Will America be the first to truly repent of its original sin? This great country has earned the right to lead the revolution and repair breached relations with some of society’s greatest contributors.Until then, we will remember the words of Dr. King as he quoted the prophet Amos: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”