If you’re shocked my title including ‘slaves’, you may also be shocked to know that the original anthem of the United States also hints at the same jargon, and the original author of the U.S. National Anthem often referred to - and thought of - African Americans in the same way that many people currently think of them: Inferior.
As an African American male living in the United States (lol @ ‘united’), I have traditionally refrained from getting overly involved with racial tensions. Up until now, I’ve traditionally taken the stance that:
But that all changed after The Charleston Shootings. They rocked me - to my core.
So much so, that I spent most of that day pissed off, crying tears of anger, and somewhat angry at everyone who’s skin didn’t have the same amount of pigmentation as my own.
Now recently, Colin Kapernick, our current POTUS, combined with the Charleston Shootings, has forced me to think about the intersection of African American allegiance to the Flag, religion, and my suffering from a lack of knowledge about what I’m actually pledging to and standing for - as a member of these ‘united states’.
These United States.
What’s interesting about the National Anthem, is that a google search of the national anthem brings up the lyrics to the song we hear when watching the beginning of an NFL football game on Monday night, the NBA finals game 1, or an NCAA final four telecast (I wonder what percentage of the NFL, NBA, and NCAAA is comprised of African Americans? Read this book, and you might find out...)
What’s even more interesting (other than my ignorance of the origins of the song) is the history behind one Francis Scott Key, the person who actually wrote the original song, and the original lyrics he included in the anthem. It was said that he WASN’T a racist, but that he was certainly aligned with the recommendation for sending African Americans back to Africa, and he just thought that since blacks were mentally inferior, masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. Regardless, as I read the original anthem, I was surprised at the language the author used to describe the slaves in America’s quest for freedom:
Now, I’ve praised the work of our soldiers. I’ve praised the change that has come at the hands of many presidents and world leaders looking to change the tide of racial tension in these ‘united states’. That’s all wonderful and heroic. Unfortunately, I’ve done all of that with the right hand on the KJV bible and my left hand across my chest, from taking oaths in court, to saying aloud the pledge in public school.
But as a pastor revealed truths to me regarding the original Hebrew ’Torah’ and the current ‘King James’ bible, combined with my true, self-driven black history lesson that I missed in US public schooling, alongside current events with the American Flag, my subconscious mind has been cracked open like an overgrown egg finally given the right amount of proper nourishment necessary to live intelligently in a broken world. Now, I’m left to pick up the pieces of my ESV bible and KGV bible, and re-assemble them through the lens of the original Hebrew language Torah. Since ‘Christianity’ has served as the core of my life, I’m certain that YHWH is opening my eyes to the realization that his vision for his people stems far past the Tower of Babel and the dispersion of language. But my human mind still keeps trying to figure out how all things work for the good of those who love YHWH, and I (nor my brothers) can’t even walk down the street at night with a hoodie without white women running and tucking while fearing for their lives. “I’m just headed to a meeting with my dissertation advisor”, I told myself.
So, King James must have messed up somewhere. Or He must have protected his own interest and the interest of ‘his’ people.
So, as I sit at this computer and type this post, I think about the struggles I see in African American students compared to White students. I think about the struggles I hear among (and experience personally) Black academics trying to progress in university. I think about the major sufferers of gentrification and food deserts in ’these united states'. I think about the amount of history left of of most school curriculums, and even out of our medical textbooks (I’m sure if Hippocrates was alive, he’d tell you about his modern day ‘medical residency’ from his African brothers). I think about 40 acres and a mule, and how history instilled dangerous, violent black v. black competition for entertainment (did you watch Django?). And then I wonder why I hear it in my Apple Music Playlist? What in the world am I to tell my 2-year old son in 16 years?
But who am I?
I’m just a ‘junior’ faculty member who finally decided to wake up.