Oh, Say Can you See (How We Feel?)
Josh Howard's Unpatriotic Moment
Min. Paul Scott
I haven't watched a basketball game since Jordan retired, so I wouldn't have known Josh Howard, superstar basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks, if he bumped into me on the street and spilled my Starbucks.
That was until he had the audacity to diss the Star Spangled Banner!
By now, I'm sure we all have seen the infamous, straight to youtube clip of Howard saying something to the effect that he didn't "celebrate" the Star Spangled Banner because he is black.
Of course the talking heads are having a field day portraying Howard as some off the wall lunatic that has a history of "wildin' out."
But lets just suppose that in between his "wildin'" he made a profound statement and raised an issue that many Americans, black or white, don't really want to deal with.
As Frederick Douglas once asked, "What is the 4th of July (or any patriotic occasion) to black folks?"
I mean, its not like black folks were free when the Star Spangled Banner first broke into the top 10. As the rockets were bursting in air, my ancestors were still bustin' their hind parts in a cotton field somewhere.
Not exactly something that you want to celebrate and form holidays around...
So, how can white America really expect those of us who are not suffering from historical amnesia to sing the ode to Ole Glory with the same gusto as Billy Bob ?
Personally speaking, I haven't pledged allegiance, saluted the flag or gone to a 4th of July barbecue since 1984 when my 11th grade teacher made me read about Malcolm X. Just didn't have the same meaning after I heard the line about "you didn't land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on you!" Not that I go around looking for flags to use as kindling or anything, I just exercise my Constitution Right not to indulge.
Howard just said what many black folks say when they are not being filmed on a cell phone for YouTube. And if white America stopped beating the revolutionary war drums long enough, they may realize that there was more than a grain of historical truth in what Howard said, sans the cussin' and the towel over his head.
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Now, am I comparing the Howard's actions to Tommie Smith and John Carlos' raising of the Black Power fist at the '68 Olympics or Ali saying that no Vietcong ever called him the "N" word?
Not at all. This is kinda like the Kanye West "George Bush doesn't like black people remark." Standing alone, beautiful moment in black history. In the context of his booty shakin' music, big disappointment. But that didn't make what West said less true nor does Howard's behavior make his.
America has always had a big problem with the people whom they pay millions of dollars to entertain becoming too political. One can look at the fall out over former Chicago Bull's star Craig Hodges sportin' his dashiki to the White House or Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf takin' a chill pill on the National Anthem.
The attitude of most sports fans is "Shut up and shoot the ball, you ingrate!!!
We will never have that prophesied "great discussion about race" until we stop shootin' the messenger and begin to feel each others pain. I will respect your right to sing "the Star Spangled Banner , "Proud to Be an American" or anything else as long as you respect my right to sing "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!"
So, America Oh, say can you see how we feel?
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