Sunday, September 4, 2016

Colin Kaepernick's Afro Has No Choice But to Stand During the National Anthem


     In the midst of it all, Colin Kaepernick’s Afro must stand for the National Anthem.  Not because of its girth and height and fabulous glory but because it must do it because of the History of the African in America since 1619.  Sure, Colin is of mixed heritage and his adoption by white, Anglo-Saxon parents and his rearing deems him to be a resident of the village of Mulatto.  But, his afro speaks volumes as to why it, and he, must stand, not sit, for America’s national anthem.  In the past few days, the media has used Colin’s decision to not stand, nor sing, during America’s national anthem, as a ratings-boost to create a dialogue, mainly negative, about whether or not it is patriotic or treasonous to disregard, or, even, show disrespect for the nation and the people that fought and/or died for the the Democracy and Freedoms that the United States uses as a tool of nationalistic superiority that is often times lorded over the global community.  It has stirred a debate that is dividing the country again to say the least.

     Colin's Afro, which apparently was picked or blown out from his previous locks of curls, is an aesthetic exhibition of his defiance of, and inclusion in American History and its culture.  Along with his decision to not stand during the anthem, his choice of hairstyle displays his understanding and embracing of his African-American heritage as well as how Black American hairstyles have been used and viewed as a tool of subversion as it pertains to combatting, challenging, and even dismantling the hierarchical structure of America that so often utilizes, at least since 1619, one's aesthetics, or physical appearance, to subjugate them to a life rife with inequality and a lack of justice and opportunities as well as demonize and dehumanize an individual's very existence. 

     From the Black American Civil Rights Movement to the Black Power Movement of the 1970s, the Afro has served as a radical and revolutionary symbol of the American ideals described in the Constitution that afford “all” Americans the freedom of expression  and (aesthetical) freedom of speech (First Amendment). And the monumental Afro probably speaks to those freedoms more loudly than any other act in that it is verbally silent yet speaks with a deafening sound that cannot be ignored.  I would even go as far as saying that, for the most historically oppressed group of people to ever reside on U.S. soil, the Afro is the embodiment of America in that it serves as a symbol of solidarity amongst those who choose to deviate and counter the archetypes and hierarchical structures of Eurocentrism that, internationally and domestically, have been the face, skin hue, and hair of the American portrait that was published in the World's Yearbook. 

The Afro, particularly when it is grown long or high, stands up to the oppression, bigotry, classism, and racism that lurks in the minds, hearts, and souls and shadowy cul de sacs of American culture.  It protests the aforementioned picture in the world’s yearbook.  It has served in all of the branches of the military and government.  It has fought crime on the nation’s police forces. It has put out fires and saved kittens from tree limbs within the nation’s Fire Departments.  It has entertained the country through song and dance.  It has won Olympic medals, many of them gold.  It was there when San Diego Chargers' running back Duane Thomas declined to stand still nor sing the anthem before a game against the Dallas Cowboys in 1972. It stood when NBA guard Mahmoud Rauf declined to put his hand on his heart nor say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem before games.  And apparently, it will be standing when its owner throws passes in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers when, or if, Kaepernick’s number is called this season.  And whether we like it or not, it will be standing tall and high and glorious when the National Anthem is sung regardless of whether or not Colin decides to stand. 

                                                                                                - Gee Joyner