National Anthem Reverberates a 400-Year-Old Message to African-Americansby H. Lewis Smith, founder of the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. June 7, 2018
To mute the oppressed has always been in the best interest of the oppressor. When a black voice is raised to oppression, those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it. In other words, “stay in your place” applies as much today as it did during the days of physical slavery.
What’s been lost in this brouhaha is the NFL players purpose for taking a knee. Trump has changed the narrative… to disrespecting the flag. Trump’s reference to the NFL players as “sons of b” and “that maybe they shouldn’t even be in this country”, serves as a reflection of what the flag and the national anthem truly represents as it pertains to African-Americans. Black Americans are expected to stay in a so-called appointed place and any attempts at emancipation… an extreme reaction will ensue.
To understand present day issues that percolates in America and Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) require one to retrieve the past so that the present may be better understood. Overcoming prevailing social injustices and inequality issues is the intent and a closer examination of what the national anthem and flag truly represents will reveal why it is that taking a knee isn’t disrespecting the flag but is a pursuit for equal respect… not just for SOME Americans… but for ALL Americans.
The flag and national anthem represents racism, before exposing this racism, and why African Americans are expected to amiably go along, it should be acknowledged that not all white people are racist; There are many moral, noble, honorable, soulful white people who aren’t. If not for the contributions of many white abolitionists, especially the magnanimous and valiant efforts of Senator Charles Sumner, Abolitionist Wendell Phillips, life in America for African-Americans would perhaps be non-existent today.
President Grant, strong supporter and advocate for annexation of Haiti was eager to see the mass deportation of the newly freed to the Caribbean, where they would once again be subjected to chattel slavery. Senator Charles Sumner, Abolitionist Wendell Phillips fought against this horrible scheme—because of their efforts – the U.S. Senate in 1870…by one vote… failed to ratify the pact, contemporaneously saving Black/African-Americans from being shipped en masse to the Dominican Republic. Grant was outraged at the outcome and for years stopped speaking to Wendell Phillips. In a fit of anger, a fellow senator attacked Senator Sumner with his cane and literally beat him.
Trump is America’s modern-day Grant the following will reveal as to why this is. First let’s look at what the flag and national anthem represents to Black America, from the past leading up to present day.
Racial slurs such as coon, jungle bunny, sambo, Uncle Tom, jigaboo, or porch monkey didn’t trigger mayhem, terror and death into the lives of Black African-American ancestors; instead, it was one word and one word only that did…n**ger. The N-word is the most infamous and profane word in the English language, punctuating an ignominious, malevolent and diabolical history. A sunken place…an image…created for African-Americans to accept disrespect, contempt and revel in it.
For over three centuries, the enslaved were chastised, beaten, and tortured to accept a self-hating, self-destructing, self-abasing and self-abnegating image of self. Today, many African-Americans voluntarily accept this ungodly… sunken place… that’s been bestowed on them. Few understand that slavery didn’t finally come to an end until the early 1960s. Chattel slavery ended in 1865, but conventional slavery, under the guise of different names continued for another 100 years.
The oppressors convinced themselves that in the eyesight of God, enslaved black people were sub-humans (3/5 a person); that they were nothing more than valueless n**gers, and, therefore, any inhumane acts perpetrated upon them were acceptable. This same sentiment holds true today; contemporary police actions stem from 400 years of mental conditioning, with the blessings of an institutionalized systemic.
It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening. The word was short for “pick a n**ger” to lynch. They would lynch a black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. It was important to recreate black slaves into a non-human image (a n**ger) to justify any atrocities perpetrated upon them. This went on every weekend which is where the term picnic came from.
These people became merchants of the macabre as they cut up the victims’ bodies into parts for resale as, souvenirs, mementos, and mantle pieces; hearts, lips, ears, fingers, spleen, liver, lungs, intestines, penis, hands, heads, scrotum and all other body parts and even the Black fetus wasn’t spared.
A Black pregnant woman, Mary Turner in Georgia, had her unborn child cut from her womb as she burned at the stake. While she was inflamed a white man stepped from the crowd, slit her stomach with his pocket knife, and when the fetus fell to the ground, he stomped it and said, “One less n**ger”. Thousands of curbside spectators slapped their knees as they laughed in amusement. The N-word isn’t being used as a racial slur, it is something far more sinister.
The term was used as an identifier and a method of separating Black people from the remainder of the populous; it was used as a psychological conduit to breed thoughts of inferiority eradicating self-dignity, pride, and self–respect. It was White America’s way of rejecting Black people as their [equal] and accepting them as a so-called white man’s burden. Because slaves were considered non-human, and lower than a dog, whites believed that in the eyesight of God, classifying the black enslaved as n**gers made it okay to dehumanize, brutalize and subject them to anything and everything ungodly. They further somehow conveniently justified that these acts of inhumanity were forgivable by God because they believed… in a sick twisted way… they were carrying out God’s work. Same as Trump’s autocratic twisted rationalization that African-Americans should ignore but, nonetheless, respect how the American flag symbolizes contempt and disrespect for Black America.
Yet in knowing this hard and ugly history, as seen in present day, the N-word is strung into every line of TV/movie scripts and hip-hop lyrics to make the entertainment more appealing and relatable to African-Americans. Thanks to the marketing, globalization, and commercialization of the N-word, youths of all races now refer to one another as the N-word.
In affect Black America has given the entire world the green light to… trivialize… the dehumanization, butchering and slaughtering of their enslaved ancestors. Thinking like helpless and hopeless victims, black users of the word see eradicating use of the term as impossible, yet it is they who are keeping the word alive.
Such an attitude is the opposite of the prevailing boldness during the 1960’s when the indomitable spirit of Black America rejected labeling references such as Negro and Colored, choosing, instead, to refer to ourselves as Black and African-American. People were different it was a time when pride, dignity and self-respect meant something.
For more than five centuries, racism has legitimized assassinations, massacres and genocides. The doctrine of white supremacy has demonized, brutalized and dehumanized non-whites of the earth for centuries. Racism has been the global driving force behind the dispossession of continents, destruction of civilizations, and extermination of an entire people. The American flag and national anthem is symbolic of this and more.
Racism is about structuring social, political, and economic circumstances. Psychological and cultural circumstances such that one race can take advantage of another. One race can enhance itself at the expense of another. It has little to do with overt race hatred, or negative attitudes or the projection of racial stereotypes. Racism involves the power of one race to impose its will upon another. This is what Trump, the evangelicals, the American Institutionalized Systemic, Neo-Nazi, KKK, and other White Supremacist groups are all fighting to preserve (MAGA).
The flag reflects a reality the Black community has been locked into a NO WIN situation. All the wealth and power in this country has been dispensed over 400 years systemically into the hands of the majority white society. Black people don’t own a significant amount of anything to be able to control their lives to the extent that would promote and allow collective progress. Whites in America today control almost 100% of the income, wealth, power, resources, privileges and all levels of government, making it impossible to compete. America is unapologetic about this and its reneging of the promised 40 acres and a mule.
It’s a gross error in judgment when black athletes address one another as the N-word. It’s illogical, irrational to try and demand respect from others while simultaneously disrespecting one another. Colin Kaepernick is on record as using the N-word, unfortunately, he is the one who took the knee.
Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Black America’s salvation can only be won for its self, by its self. Looking to others to complete this feat for us is NOT going to work. Depending on political parties and the government to win this battle for us is not the answer. Instead, enlightenment, commitment to the collective community’s progress, and establishing economic independence must be at the forefront of each member’s mind and present in every single action taken and association made. Ultimately, this mindset will lead to self-reliance and self-respect, which are the proper ingredients of advancement.
Anything less, we can expect to always be treated in an exploitative, subordinated and exclusive manner; to assume otherwise will prove to be an exercise in futility, as our demand for respect will continue to fall on deaf ears.
Whether it’s taking a knee or staying in the locker room, one thing is abundantly clear… the oppressor has NO interest in acknowledging the concerns of African-Americans. Black folks had better wake up to the true significance of an ongoing 400-year-old message of being labeled the N-word, voluntarily going along with the program is foolhardy and delusional.
When African-American soldiers returned home from WWII they were meet with unpatriotic jeers admonishing them not to forget their place as that of a n**ger.
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., (www.theunitedvoices.com) and author of “Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word”, and “Undressing the N-word: Revealing the Naked Truth, Lies, Deceit and Mind Games”. Follow him on Twitter @thescoop1