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Kudos to Beyonce who used her very visible platform at the MTV VMA’s to do more than just shake her rump, but continued raising awareness to _the senseless police shootings of Black Americans. In her 15 minute performance during the weekend awards show, Beyonce gave a profound example when surrounded by dancers dressed as angels. One by one, as angels are killed, red lights symbolic of blood stains. fill the stage. It was raw, emotional and powerful. Apparently too powerful and honest for former NY Mayor and current Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani who called the performance “a shame” and went on to declare “I saved more black lives than any of those people you saw onstage.” Crime dropped while Giuliani was in office, but New York just followed a nationwide trend. Giuliani seems to have picked up Trump’s penchant for claiming accomplishments without any real facts to back it up.
But Giuliani’s outrage at what may have been one of the best performances of Beyonce’s career reflects the discomfort America feels when confronted with the naked truth. It’s the same response we’ve witnessed over and over with every police shooting, the BLM movement and currently with the Colin Kaepernick story. During a recent preseason NFL game Kaepernick made a conscious decision to sit in protest when the national anthem was played. Kaepernick said simply, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” You would think the 49ers’ quarterback committed murder the way people have slammed and criticized his protest. Of course, one of the first people to respond and criticize was Trump who tweeted, “I think it’s a terrible thing. And you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him.” NBC sports analyst Rodney Harrison apparently didn’t think bi-racial Kaepernick was Black enough to protest saying, “He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face, or people of color face, on a every single (day) basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up in to a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you about to steal something. I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.” Another sports figure Tony Stewart tweeted:
All of this outrage and anger over a man choosing not to stand for the national anthem. Perhaps they should re-read the lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” and remember what the anthem is about. It’s about the freedoms this country represent. The freedom to choose your political affiliation, your religion and whether you want to stand or not when the song is played. One of the best defenses of Kaepernick comes from Jim Wright. The veteran turned blogger Wright says people can threaten, shame and force Kaepernick to stand and put his hand over his heart when the anthem is played, but that doesn’t mean the respect for the anthem is in his heart. Wright says, “If Americans want this man to respect American, then first they must respect him.” Wright goes on to say, ” A true veteran might not agree with Colin Kaepernick, but a true veteran would fight to the death to protect his right to say what he believes.”
And that is the point, everyone is getting so bitter about the messages Kaepernick and Beyonce are expressing about problems in this country that they are forgetting that in this country, they have the right to express those views. It doesn’t mean they don’t love their country. It means they love this country enough to want to see it become a better place, even if that means being ridiculed, boycotted and losing future contract deals. They may not be taking up weapons and going to war, but to speak the truth or defend it when you know it’s not popular is still fighting for justice. And their protests are are the very personification of Francis Scott Key’s verse…”the land of the free and the home of the brave”.
the third verse all but contradicts any meaning of a “land of the free” and “home of the brave” (emphasis mine):
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.