On July 12, 2018, the Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD) organization at the University of Cincinnati shared a Facebook video (now deleted from the university page) from The Root explaining why they believe the American national anthem is racist.
In the beginning of the video, Felice Leon mocks the national anthem as being written by a ‘white dude,’ claiming Francis Scott Key was ‘problematic.’ Besides attacking Key’s skin color and gender, Leon defends her position by stating that Key was a slave owner and actively opposed abolitionists. Leon plays footage of Dr. Jason Johnson, Professor of Political Science at Morgan State University, claiming that anyone who even attempts to put history in perspective is upholding ‘epidemic white supremacy, white nationalism, and bigotry.’ Leon concludes her video by saying, “Land of the free? Home of the brave? God bless America- I guess.”
So, does The Root and the Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD) organization have a valid point? Is the American national anthem racist? By today’s standards, nobody would admire a figure who condoned slavery, and anyone who would endorse slavery would rightfully be classified as racist. However, is it wrong to put history in perspective? At one time in history, slavery existed on the soil of almost every civilization that exists today. In fact, the United States abolished slavery before many territories in Africa. Despite slavery being abolished at a governmental level in many African territories during the first quarter of the 20th century, slavery still persisted illegally for decades to come.
Therefore, unless Africans are manipulated into despising their heritage, Europeans hating their ancestors, and Arabs not liking their own, it is a double standard and immoral to manipulate Americans into feeling guilty about their founding.
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