Racializing the National Anthem
Topic: Race and Racialism
Around 1970, the small Czech-Bohemian town of Crosby, near Houston, was forced by government mandate to integrate its schools with the black community of Barrett, four miles away. One problem: the Crosby school mascot was the Buffalo. The new black constituency associated the buffalo with a racial stereotype, so it was changed to the Cougar. Similarly, another area school district, C. E. King, changed from Rebels to Panthers. Their "old" mascot looked like a Confederate soldier.
Fair enough. Call it sense and sensibilities.
On July 3, 2008, jazz singer Rene Marie was scheduled to sing the National Anthem at the Denver mayor's State of the City address. What she did not bother to tell the mayor's office was that she had decided, "months ago," to no longer sing the national anthem. Instead, she substituted her own version, to which she had adapted lyrics from the Black National Anthem. The Black National Anthem was written by James Weldon Johnson, best known for his poetry series about black preachers, entitled "God's Trombones."
Ms. Marie, who justified her choice in the name of "artistic expression," seemed to relish the deception. She told a reporter, "I pulled a switcheroonie on them," and said she "wouldn't change a thing" about what she had done. Apparently, Ms. Marie has never been "really proud of her country."
There is nothing wrong with Johnson's song, but it is not our national anthem. Is this what is to pass for unity today -- the submersion, or subversion, of our historical culture, the product of the great Melting Pot (or as some say, Stew Pot) of cultures, in deference to the overworked sensibilities and sensitivities of a minority of one minority?
Moreover, how radical and emboldened, if Barack Obama is elected president -- or if he is not -- can we expect this minority of racialists to become?
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Posted by hughes
at 5:50 PM CDT