I swear I must be getting soft in my old age. Now I am seriously starting to question my radical black militant credentials. Honestly, I am one of those folks who believes that if I were a thinking adult in 1968, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been behind John Carlos and Tommy Smith 100%. I would have been saying shit like: right on brothers, fuck the national anthem and that gold medal. Power to the people. But now.....
There has been a story out for a few days now. I am sure you all are aware of it. You know the one, about the sister in Denver who sang the National Anthem with the words of the black National Anthem, "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing". Girlfriend sang the words of the black National Anthem to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner. My first thoughts were, how the hell did she pull that off musically? And then, of course, came the firestorm. Black and white folks were outraged. Well, some black folks were outraged, and damn near all white folks were. They accused her of deceiving the city of Denver to make a political statement. (Why is it than when shit has to do with black folks it's always "political statement"?) Girlfriend had to publicly apologize to the Mayor. And not surprisingly, even the "O" man threw her under the bus. (I swear if they had an under the bus toss in the Olympics, the U.S.A. would have to send the "O" man, because he would get a fucking gold medal. But I digress) Lucky for her she is 52 years old because her music career is pretty much kaput.
"I pulled a switcharoo on them" is what she told the Denver Post. And she explained that she was a child of the segregated South, and singing the song this way was her own artistic expression of the pain she feels at times from being a black A-merry-can. Okay, I am feeling all of those things. So why am I not feeling this particular protest? Why am I not behind girlfriend 110%? Why wasn't I blogging about this shit the next day, and saying that the politicians and the people of Denver should leave this poor woman alone?
It's because I have all these questions that I am now questioning my right to call myself a black man who speaks his mind no matter what, and no matter who it offends. Would I have openly defended Tommie Smith and John Carlos if I was blogging in 1968? Damn it now I am not so sure. Because I sure don't feel like defending Rene Marie. Is it because "we have come so far as a country" since 1968? Is it because it was Denver Colorado, and not Jackson Mississippi? Is it because the only consequence girlfriend will suffer is that she won't be asked to sing for the city of Denver again? Damn, more questions than answers, I hate that.
Poor Mayor Hickenlooper (Dude that's a seriously fucked up name), the poor guy says that he wished he had "interceded during the performance" (Now see, if you had done that Mr. Hickenlooper, we would have had a problem).
"We will do whatever it takes to ensure that a situation like this never occurs again... even if I have to sing the national anthem myself."
I can't wait to see who sings the National Anthem at next years state of the city address in Denver. I know one thing; whoever sings it, won't look anything like Rene Marie.