Teen Vogue took to Twitter and claimed “Racism and patriotism go hand in hand” by sharing an earlier article, which argues many of America’s prominent anthems are rooted in racism.
The May 15 article, which drew immense criticism online and was titled ‘The Racist History of America’s Patriotic Anthems,’ discusses popular anthems that have been performed over the course of American history, including “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Kate Smith’s “God Bless America,” and “Dixie.”
According to the article’s author, Smith, who famously performed “God Bless America,” used racist language in a few of her other songs and contributed to America’s “racist history.” The author, who outlined Smith’s racist tone in a few other songs, failed to identify how Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” was racist.
The author then went on to discuss “Dixie,” which was written by Daniel Decatur Emmett in the 1850’s. According to the article, the song “started out as a minstrel song, depicting happy, enslaved people in 1859” and later became the “unofficial anthem of the Confederacy.”
Without pointing to direct racism in “Dixie,” the author noted that “Southern anthem” was “part of the score for the controversial movie The Birth of a Nation,” which “played a significant role in the revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the amplification of white supremacy.”
The author then targeted one of America’s most popular anthems, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which she stated “was written by a slave-owning Washington lawyer, Francis Scott Key.”
Alluding to one of the anthem’s most prominent lyrics, “the land of the free,” the author stated, “Key wrote the poem that would eventually become the national anthem in 1814, during a time when black Americans were not free.”
While discussing particular lyrics within the nation’s anthem, the author claims the poem was written to “celebrate the land of the free — white Americans.”
The author went on to claim “songs that have no ties with problematic historic figures and aren’t blatantly racist with ‘hidden stanzas,’ the picturesque portrait of America these songs paint doesn’t align with the black experience, which is filled with mass incarceration, cruel and unjust murders, and policies put in place to continue the American tradition of systemic oppression.”
“As black people, we’re expected to shut up and sing these songs that, for so long, declared and celebrated freedom that specifically excluded us; freedom that, in 2019, still doesn’t feel applicable to us,” the author wrote.
With no direct evidence of racism referenced to from the national anthem, the article’s author also stated “we have a responsibility to do better” or else “we’re complicit in the continuation of racist traditions and behaviors that have been upheld in America since the first colonizers arrived.”