Saturday, September 23, 2017

Countries Around The World Protest National Anthems. Here's A List.

The choice to sit, kneel, boo, raise a fist, or any other form of protest during your country's national anthem is not as unusual, or uniquely American, as NFL comment feeds would lead us to believe. 

Following is a brief list of anthem protests in other countries. The reasons are varied, from ideological fault with the lyrics to offense by the composer to issue with the country's social systems. As with all protests, public sentiment is divided. 

These international anthem protests have at least one thing in common: they occur in countries that value freedom of speech. 

Notable countries that did not make this list include the Philippines, where failure to sing with gusto could lead to imprisonment (and capital punishment without trial is the new normal), North Korea (where political prison camps are full of people who have no idea what they did to get there), China, where refusal to stand solemnly means detention, at minimum, and India, where perceived disrespect toward the anthem could lead to years in prison

Once we establish national anthem protest as a valid expression of free speech in a healthy democracy, perhaps we can move on to discuss the real issues behind these protests.

1. Switzerland: where the German-sourced Swiss Psalm was voted out for a version that can be sung in all four national languages

Swiss soccer players, not singing the national anthem
2. Germany: where some just hum the national anthem for fear of being too patriotic, or giving credence to a past of Nazi nationalism, which led to the first and second verses being struck from public recognition. 

3. England: where a desire to identify apart from Scotland and Wales could inspire the British to boo "God Save the Queen," until England gets its own national anthem. 

Jeremy Corbyn, British politician, not singing "God Save the Queen"
4. Australia: where indigenous citizens and high-profile athletes protest the racist undertones of "Advance Australia Fair." 

5. France: where booing the national anthem is a form of protest against divisive social classes and racial unrest. 

6. Spain: where Catalans and Basques regularly whistle or boo the national anthem as a bid for independence.  

Catalonian protest during Spain's national anthem

Americans, let us not align with the punitive false patriotism of countries who suppress free speech in favor of silence and outward reverence. 

For those who have a different race reality than what our national anthem and ideals represent, it's time to dialogue about why that is, and what to do about it.

Systemic Racism Is Real.

The reality for most people of color in the United States is legitimately different than my reality as a white woman.

We can trade links and troll comments all day and come to different conclusions about race in America. 

But these stats are just a glance into the systemic racism that persists in our country today:

1. African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites. 

2. African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.

3. Black people are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than white people. While black people represent 13% of the US population, they represent 47% of exonerations.
4. African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested, 42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court. 
5. If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.
6. Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. On average, 5% of white students are suspended, compared to 16% of black students. 
7. Job applications with names that are stereotypically white receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews than those with names that are stereotypically black. This means an applicant with a name that “sounds black” needs to send out 15 resumes before getting an interview, whereas an applicant with a name that “sounds white” only needs to send out 10.
8. HUD recently settled with the largest bank in Wisconsin over claims that it discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota from 2008-2010. Though these cases of banks redlining minorities to prevent homeownership are decreasing, historic prejudice by lenders, over the past 100 years, makes homeownership beyond reach for many minority families.
Racial tensions are high. It's easy to dismiss the concerns of protesters who are too loud, too destructive, too angry, or too emotional. Sometimes they are quiet, undistracting, reverent, and calm, and still, we take offense and ignore the important root of their message:
Systemic racism is real. 

White Privilege Is Real.

1. On Drugs In America

"White privilege" is when your race's illegal drug epidemic is (rightly) treated as a national health crisis -- addressed with better addiction therapy and the hope of recovery -- instead of a three-strikes-you're-out criminalization of addiction. 

The imprisonment rate of black people for drug charges is over five times that of white people. It's a systemically different approach to the same problem.
Heroin addicts in court.
2. On White Crime In America

"White privilege" is when you murder two strangers, because you don't like the color of their skin. And the local paper does a write-up on your background of outstanding community service, complete with your smiling Boy Scout photo. 

(The Boy Scouts have disavowed him, for what it's worth.)

Despite his criminal history, culminating in cold-blooded murder, Kenneth Gleason is not called a thug. The article describes him as an intelligent loner with a studious interest in white supremacy. 

The names of his black victims are Bruce Cofield and Donald Smart. The article doesn't mention that.

The newspaper has changed the lead photo, headline, and content since publication, due to social media pressure. Screenshots of the original article are below.
3. On Escalation Of Police Interactions With Suspects In America 

"White privilege" is when you can de-escalate a police interaction, simply by the color of your skin. 

Of all of the unarmed people shot and killed by police in 2015, 40 percent of them were black men, even though black men make up just 6 percent of the nation’s population. 

Unarmed black Americans are five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.

About 13 percent of all black people fatally shot by police since January 2015 were unarmed, compared with 7 percent of all white people.

Even adjusting for black Americans living in higher crime areas, thereby increasing probability of police presence and interaction, police escalation to lethal violence against a suspect is higher for black Americans than white Americans. 
Photo Source
4. On Every-Day Details Of Life In America

"White Privilege" is when you can go shopping alone, without store employees following you through the store, suspecting you will shoplift. 

"White Privilege" is when learning the history of our country, emphasis is on the positive influence of light-skinned people. 

"White Privilege" is when you can use checks, credit cards, or cash, without the recipient wondering if you're financially reliable

"White Privilege" is when I can criticize my government and have concern for how its policies will affect me and my family, without being seen as a political outsider

"White Privilege" is when I can advocate for racial justice without being judged as self-serving.