The California chapter of the NAACP is pushing for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to be removed as the nation’s national anthem, claiming it is “racist” and “anti-black people.” The move has prompted outrage online.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) branch has zeroed in on a section of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ which is not typically sung at sporting events. In fact, many Americans are unaware of the controversial lyrics in the third stanza of the song.
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” the lyrics state. The president of the NAACP’s California chapter, Alice Huffman, says some interpretations of the words have concluded that they celebrate the deaths of black slaves fighting for freedom.
“This song is wrong, it should never have been there. And just like we didn’t have it until 1931, it won’t kill us if it goes away,”Huffman told CBS Sacramento.
The NAACP president said it was NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – which quickly spread among other football players to highlight racial injustice in the United States – that prompted her to examine the lyrics of the song. “It’s racist. It doesn’t represent our community. It’s anti-black people,” she said.
The chapter says it will present a resolution to the California legislature which will call for the removal of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ as the national anthem. They hope state lawmakers will forward the resolution to Congress.
However, not everyone agrees with the NAACP’s assessment of the song. Some have taken to social media to express their outrage with the chapter’s claims.
“Stupidity alert,” one person wrote. They went on to call the NAACP a “racist all-black organization.”
Another person also took aim at the NAACP, calling it “nothing more than a group of self-serving bigots.” They also noted that such a claim would only happen in California – the state in which the commenter resides, according to their Twitter profile.
One Twitter user merely expressed confusion at the claim.“How are those words racist?” he asked.
Another person, however, appeared to agree that the song is racist. He suggested a new version be written “without the racist lyrics,” calling it the “2017 Equality Remix.”
The conversation over ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ comes amid several wider race-driven debates in the US, including the tearing down of Confederate statues and monuments across the country. Their removals have been deemed “sad” by President Donald Trump, who tweeted that “you can’t change history, but you can learn from it.”