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COLIN KAEPERNICK AND THE RADICAL USES OF “THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER”

Colin Kaepernick Photo by Stephen Lam Reuters

William Robin | The New Yorker

In light of Colin Kaepernick's recent refusal to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner," Professor of music William Robin discusses the complex political history of the national anthem: 

"Is "The Star-Spangled Banner" racist? The short answer is yes, insofar as almost every older piece of American iconography cannot be rid of the stain of slavery. But, too often, arguments about the anthem center on critiques of Key. Instead, we might better place Kaepernick’s stance within a longer and more complicated history of figures such as Atlee who utilized “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a vehicle for proclaiming dissent. Even before it officially became our national anthem, dissidents were using “The Star-Spangled Banner” to point out incongruities between the song’s claims and America’s reality. Understanding the song as it has been sung moves us beyond the politics of one man and toward comprehending how the anthem has functioned as a powerful articulation of citizenship."

The entire article is available on the New Yorker website.

Photograph by Stephen Lam / Reuters Via The New Yorker

Date of Publication: 
8/29/16