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Local Voices: The National Anthem’s Taking a Stand

By Sean C. Bowers

Some would have you believe that our national anthem is under attack. This flies in the face of reality. We all love America, but some will only continue to love our country, if it is the version of the America they want. Problem is, with over 320 million American citizens, getting directional agreement or a consensus is a challenging process. How can we continue to support our allegiance to a nation and a systemic oppression that values some of our citizens, as LESS THAN others?

Our flag stands for ALL, yet ALL are not treated fairly or even close to equally as the nightly news clearly shows. I am amazed how those who claim to be the most patriotic Americans and who love America the MOST, are also the same people stockpiling weapons to fight the evil “BIG GOVERNMENT BOOGY MAN” that they are convinced wants to come and take away their guns and force their sisters and daughters to have countless abortions. What they truly fear is that they might not get to inflict their conservative constitutional version of history and what they think America (only as they interpret) should (and always will) be, on the rest of us. Their fear is based on their loss of ability to control outcomes, people, profits, resources, people’s choices and voices.

Show me a progressive thinker and I’ll show you someone open to a conversation, not threatened by new ideas, and open-minded in an exchange or debate. Show me a conservative thinker and I’ll show you a fear-based scared over amplified (reverse racism) whinner pining for a bygone era when they could run their oppression game (FULL COURT PRESS) and not be called on it. I’ll show you a group who doesn’t want to read, learn, understand or trust science because it fundamentally changes the American power landscape they have enjoyed for so long.

When the “Black Lives Matter” movement is met with such outrage, when national anthem protests are portrayed to be lawless, anti-cop, anti-military, un-patriotic and therefore anti-American, we only have to look at the loudest accusers. Do the accusers have any military background of serving themselves? Do they have any examples of performing community service- ever doing something selfless for others -or has their entire existence always been only about them and what they want America to go back to?

For those who see both sides and feel conflicted, how long would you be sitting on that fence if it was your sons, brothers, fathers, nephews, cousins, uncles, and grandsons who were dying and being KILL’T with a capital TERMINATOR “T”… in the streets, daily, in front of you and all of us, on the nightly news? This can’t possibly be the accepted norm in an enlightened America.

Our national anthem earns our support and respect because it lives up to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights it represents. Our national anthem with its red, white and blue symbolic flag colors, are most reflective and representative of our nation’s diversity. We have people who are blue because of a system that degrades and devalues them. We have people who are (bloodied) red with anger because they see, hear, feel, face their own special American experience. An experience where injustices in our America are their unrelenting every day routine, until their lives are tragically cut short and make the news.

And yes, we have people who are white-hot angry Americans. Sometimes I think they are that way because their hatred and anger consumes and rules them. If they had their way, America and the flag would both be all-white. But an all-white flag is the universal sign and symbol for surrender, and we’re not about to surrender our America or our American dream, to them, no matter how long they’ve been in power or no matter how white(-HOT) they get.

The national anthem is all about making an American stand, standing tall when it counts most, when needed, when and where oppression is. It might be helping another country (such as World War II), or even right here in the home of the brave, in our own American backyard. So if it’s a raised fist, as in the “1968” Olympics, or the taking of a knee, in silent, DUAL-PURPOSED, respectful, thoughtful, cause supportive protest, of the facts, so be it. We still have progress to make until America fulfills her true promise and potential for ALL her citizens: equal rights, treatment and justice under the law.

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So while I salute and thank our military for their service so that we have our safety and the right to protest, I also point out that they are doing their duty that they signed up for, volunteered for, or get paid for. Now we individuals have to do our citizenry duty to protest, until ALL Americans are TREATED WITH EQUALITY. Standing up and being counted American sometimes means taking a knee (kneeling) and praying, that everyone sees the sacrifices that have been made and the people’s pains, when left unaddressed, un-respected, un-represented, and un-fairly treated. We must all stand resolute, or we stand for nothing.
Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide the last eighteen years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available at and he does do large scale solutions presentations.

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