I am an American first. This is always what I’d say when the question of race, politics, or religion came up with friends and acquaintances. I’ve always had a nationalistic spirit which was easy to do living an open and free lifestyle in beautiful NorCal. I never really questioned my allegiance and never really thought much about our National Anthem as anything but a beautiful expression of national honor and pride. It never occurred to me to question it. Then Colin took a knee. I obviously support our American right to voice an opinion (as long as it doesn't hurt others), but something about it caused me a moment of pause.

What was it all about? So, I conducted my own Google search for the full version of our national anthem and was shocked at what I discovered.

I am an American first

As an Afro-Native American woman, I highly value ethnic pride and any person’s freedom to express that pride. What I've noticed is that more and more our society it trying to erase the past and keep Americans ignorant of the truth. Why? Knowing our history provides a pathway to helps us move forward to secure a better future for all Americans. If we're ignorant of the past, were destined to repeat it. Is that what we want?

Our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” as I’ve always heard it, cuts short of its full intent and meaning.

What I’ve found is that meaning was not intended to include me. When we hear "The Star-Spangled Banner" at sporting events or national ceremonies, we only hear the first and second verses. Just because we've tried to hide the full version doesn't make it non-existent. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written for freemen - white men.

I'm neither! “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a black eye to all who fought a free and just America for ALL Americans!

The anthem states:

"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."

(Provided by the Maryland Historical Society)

Who's national anthem?

Our national anthem that we so highly regard, was written by a slave owner who relished the demise of slaves desperate for freedom.

Francis Scott Key did not write with the foresight of freedom and justice for all future Americans. He wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” to glorify American white privilege to conquer and destroy at will.

The anthem states:

"Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just."

(Provided by the Maryland Historical Society)

With all this in mind, I ask the question; What feeling should I have when I hear the anthem today? It would be illogical to think I'd continue to harbor feelings of honor or pride.

Thank you, Colin, for helping me to remember to question and see clearly with open eyes. As a woman of color, I find it disrespectful to those who struggled before me to live the life I live so effortlessly today. It's also disrespectful to myself to "stand" for anything that celebrates my demise. In light of all I now know, taking a knee is the most respectful thing to do.