Home of the Brave?

I attended a “teach-in” on October 25, 2016 regarding colin Kaepernick and his protest of the U.S. National Anthem. I learned several lessons from this “teach-in.”

Dr. Stephen Quaye opened the dialogue. We were reminded that Black Lives Matter. It is important not to judge (debate) but try to understand (dialogue). Individual and systemic oppression matter. With shame, our agency is lost. The ideas behind “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” comes from shame about our identities & defensiveness. Guilt is acknowledging behavior as good/bad. Shame is saying I am good/bad. Do not frame people as good/bad. Engage in dialogue, earn the right to name our shame, allow people to be whole.

Athletes have been protesting against governments for decades, so what Colin Kaepernick is doing is nothing new. The idea of dissent is originally found in religion. We have a choice not to swear an oath. This is the original reason the Quakers came to what is now the U.S. There are three places in the U.S. Constitution, not including the Bill of Rights, where the swearing or affirmation of an oath is required.

  1. Article I, Section 3
  2. Article II, Section 1
  3. Article VI

Most U.S. citizens are familiar with the┬ályrics of the U.S. National Anthem because it is sung before all sporting events and other forms of entertainment or gatherings of individuals. There has been backlash against Kaepernick for sitting or eventually kneeling while the U.S. National Anthem is performed. There are those that call him unpatriotic and say the same about those that support his decision. An interesting radio panel about the “militaristic culture” surrounding sporting events and in particular the NFL can be heard here. The last verse we sing of the U.S. National Anthem is actually a question. Instead of applause at the end, we should turn to neighbor and ask that question.


It is also interesting to know that there are several stanzas to the U.S. National Anthem that are not sung. Stanza 3 in particular reveals a racist agenda.

[Stanza 2]

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

[Stanza 3]

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

[Stanza 4]

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!