The day after the Super Bowl there were two headlines that caught my eye. The first described a “controversial penalty call” decried as a “bad way to end a Super Bowl.” Did Bradberry hold Smith-Schuster or just touch his jersey? Good people can rightfully argue over that. The other headline was “Rep. Lauren Boebert raged against performance of ‘Black national anthem’ at the Super Bowl.” She, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kari Lake and other GOP, ummmm “leaders?” complained that the NFL had gone “woke,” calling the song “Lift every voice and sing” divisive. Really? My friends, I have to say quite frankly, that GOOD people cannot argue about that.
Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy routine from the ’90s comes to mind when he would riff on things like “If you have astroturf lining the back of your truck, you might just be a redneck.” If you find yourself enraged by the singing of “Lift every voice and sing” at the Super Bowl, I’m sorry, but you might just be a … person in need of some serious soul searching. Speaking of souls, lashing out against this song isn’t just racist (yeah I said it), it is also an insult to every major mainstream Christian denomination in our country which includes it in 42 different hymnals.
Since it is Black History Month, let’s take a look at the complete lyrics based on the poem that was written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900.
Lift every voice and sing, ‘Til earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, High as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, Let us march on ‘til victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet, Come to the place for which our fathers sighed.
We have come, over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past, ‘Til now we stand at last, Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might, Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet, stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand, True to our God, True to our native land.
Wow. Fire up YouTube and check out a few performances of this amazing song. Read about its history. When I sing this song in church or hear it performed I am reminded of our past and present faults but my spirit still soars over what we have overcome so far, my determination to create a more perfect union is strengthened, and my faith in our mutual future is fortified. Yes, the song is affectionately referred to as the Black national anthem and is the official song of the NAACP. Why would that bother someone? The Super Bowl audience was also powerfully moved by Chris Stapleton’s rendition of the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” performed in front of a massive U.S. flag and accompanied by an all-women pilot Navy flyover (Go Navy!). Cool! And later the halftime crowd was treated to a great performance by Rihanna (which yet another headline reported DJT raging against). Football, music, fried food, military pomp, the American flag, crazy costumes, what’s not to like? Well, there are the concussions and heart attacks to avoid and could we please retire the tomahawk chop?
Let’s lift our voices and tell the Lauren Boeberts of the world that we, in fact, are united in our love for this country, AND united against hate and racism, AND no matter how much she and her followers rage, the overwhelming majority of us will forever stand true to our God, true to our native land, and we ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around, we’re gonna keep on moving the ball towards first and 10 even if they grab our jerseys. Yeah, Bradberry says he grabbed it. Full Disclosure: This gay columnist has never worn a jersey and knows absolutely NOTHING about football. Go Niners!
Craig Wiesner is the co-owner of Reach And Teach, a book, toy and cultural gift shop on San Carlos Avenue in San Carlos.
Beautifully put. Thanks Craig.
Terrance Y - the new Chris Conway [cool]
Thanks for the compliment, JestMike650. But how do you know I’m not the old Chris Conway?
Chris Conway had a somewhat broader vocabulary, so he didn't have to repeat the same words as often as you.
Jorg, that may be true but it means that Mr. Conway, like me, has also forgotten more vocabulary than you’ll ever learn. BTW, because your repeated words are replete with repeats of fake news and lies, you’ll likely see a repeat replete with the same responses. After all, why would I change a winning formula… the truth shall set you free.
TY: Well, at least I keep you busy enough to keep you out of other trouble you could get yourself into!
Mr. Wiesner – you appear to be missing the point… The issue is not the song or its lyrics… Unless you’re going to allow the Asian-American national anthem, a Mexican-American national anthem, an Orange national anthem, etc. to be sung, then the Black national anthem is considered divisive because it is not inclusive, or equitable, or whatever you want to call it to all Americans. Using racism to address racism won’t unite our country, but our one National Anthem shows we are united (yes, that means everyone, not just a faction) in our love for this country. BTW, it sounds like you’re happy with sowing division – implying people who argue against your narrative as not GOOD people. If you don’t consider me as GOOD people, I can live with that… I’ll assume you consider me as GREAT people…
Mr. Y - have you read the third verse of the "Star Spangled Banner"? That is not only divisive, it's downright racist. I'd rather sing "Life Every Voice and Sing", or an Asian-American National Anthem, a Mexican-American National Anthem (not too sure about the Orange one) than pay homage to a song that celebrates the "terror of flight or the gloom of the grave" for the "hireling and slave" (words directly from the third verse). And the song was written to the tune of a British bar song, no less. You clearly don't understand that the current National Anthem does NOT show that we are united; it celebrates the carnage in this land against the poor and people of color. If that's not divisive, I don't know what it.
Rev. Owens - thanks for your reply, although you appear to be missing the point regarding a National Anthem. If you believe the “Star Spangled Banner” is divisive (like having umpteen subsets of national anthems would be) then you should do what you can to convince folks to change it. I’d prefer Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” as a replacement. Of course some may consider this also to be the Orange National Anthem…
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