Just earlier this week, television stations across the state of Alabama and the country made the decision to air “The Star-Spangled Banner” throughout the day and night during different times. An article in AL.com reports that starting June 18, WBRC Fox 6 (Birmingham) will air the anthem shortly before 4 a.m. each day, as will WSFA 12 (Montgomery). WAFF 48 (Huntsville) will air the anthem on Mondays after the 10 p.m. newscast; after the noon newscast on Tuesdays and Thursdays; immediately after the 4:30 a.m. newscast on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and before the start of the 5 a.m. newscast on Saturdays and Sundays. This is nothing new, however. Until television stations switched to 24-hour operations in the 1980s, playing the anthem was traditionally how American stations went of the air and returned the following morning.
If we were living in the oblivious time period of the 1980s or 1990s, most Americans would not find the conflict in this decision being put in place by Gray Television. However, we are not in that period. We are living in a period of profound enlightenment mixed with a politically polarizing culture. More people are reading, studying, and comprehending so much more. One very interesting document that is being looked at much more is, in fact, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” officially known as our United States National Anthem. The majority of the conflict is a stanza in Verse 3 that reads:
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”
To many readers, this can suggest the composer’s embrace of slavery and the anger felt toward British officers who used the promise of emancipation to recruit enslaved African-Americans. Unfortunately, this is not something we can ask Mr. Key, as he has been dead for centuries. However, as an African-American it is hard to muster up a sense of patriotism when there seems to be an overwhelming aura of angered racism. Living in Alabama makes it worse when you consider the Alabama Constitution has not been ratified since 1903 and slavery is still noted as legal. Slaves and the recognition of Black people as three-fifths of a person is still noted in the United States Constitution. So, it is very complicated to maintain a sense of love for one’s country when over the years, the same country you grow up in shows no regard for you because of the color of your skin.
All of these details lead us back to today. Imagine being me. Being Black. Living in a society where Black men are characterized as “bucks” or “brutes,” and Black women viewed as “mammies,” “video vixens,” “welfare queens,” or a “black bitches.” The same society that tells us every day to “get over it” while gunning down people who look like me, denying basic civil rights to people who look like me, and telling people who look like me to shut up in the process. So when Gray Communications makes the decision to air the very controversial song that people such as Colin Kaepernick, Sunny Hostin, Maxine Waters, and Judge Collins Pettaway, Jr. have explained over and over why that song is not an appropriate song to be played in this country (Which is considered more of a “salad bowl” than a “melting pot.”), this comes off as a slap in the face of all African-Americans. Shame on you Hilton Howell. Shame on you Gray Television. Shame on you all.
We may have come a long way, but we clearly have an even longer way to go. We are still proud to be Americans. The question is, is America proud to have us?