Anthem speaks to who we are

By Vanessa Primer - Guest Commentary



Many people of color like myself, do feel included by the national anthem.

Frederick Douglass believed in embracing our origins and loved our national anthem.

New York Giants Rashad Jennings told New York Daily News, "It's nice to know that we live in a country where sitting down during the anthem won't land you in jail or worse."

He is proud to stand and supports the values in the anthem.

He points out the four verses end "the land of the free and the home of the brave" not "land of the free, home of the slave."

Francis Scott Key was not a man of his time – he was progressive, paid by slave owners, yet taking cases pro bono for slaves, Supreme Court arguments that slavery was wrong, and buying slaves to set free with the American Colonization Society; Key was surprisingly inclusive and worked to hasten change.

As to the anthem itself, the third verse was not likely to have been about escaped slaves, nor probable that it referenced the Colonial Marines; it is most likely to have been about enslavement of people by the monarchy.

The anthem is about the battle of Fort McHenry, and the Colonial Marines did not fight at all in this battle.

Rather than referencing people that were not present, our anthem taken in context is wholly a creation of its time and refers to all people under a monarchy as enslaved, including our citizens pressganged by the British – one of the reasons for this war.

The French national anthem also written in that era referenced slaves, people being owned by a monarchy, and they were not referencing black slaves in America.

The only blacks at this battle were fighting for the U.S., liberty, and freedom.

Verse 4 refers to "freemen", and is grateful for our survival as a country with the forward thinking promise of freedom for all people.

The national anthem is not about slavery.

It celebrates the heroism of military heroes without regard of race.

Saying our anthem celebrates white victory over escaped slaves is at best an oversimplification of complex history and a dishonesty at worst.

I am baffled by the conflicting ideas that we have the freedom to protest and stand up for things that are wrong… but that the very anthem celebrating this freedom we enjoy is racist.

Baltimore/Fort McHenry was defended by both black and white against an invader that press-ganged people into slavery; every time we sing this song we take this anthem for us, something to live up to.

Savio Pham spoke at the forum on being a refugee, experiencing lack of liberty and freedom, and on what he feels as an American that truly represents the American ideal.

Like him, I want the anthem at my graduation.

I want to ask the question the anthem asks.

As we exit school and enter the world with our degrees in hand… Are we brave? Are we free? Divisiveness is splitting our Nation, one founded on freedom - are we winning this battle for freedom?

Is the type of liberty and opportunity for which America proudly stands worth fighting for? Ideas should be defended, especially audacious ones like American liberty.

Our symbols need to live up to what we have become but we also need to live up to what our symbols deserve.

America is not a perfect nation. No nation is without flaws and failings.

However, our anthem communicates our values... those of liberty, democracy, and independence from tyrannical governments.

This is an anthem worth keeping. I want to have this song at my graduation.

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Suicide Stopped

An alert Highline staff member and local public safety officers helped stop a potential suicide on campus last week. While a staff member was working, he noticed a suspicious male wandering the East Lot around 6:25 a.m. May 25. The staff worker called Highline Public Safety who responded to find the individual running around with a rope in his hands, looking for a place to possibly hang himself. This prompted Public Safety to contact Des Moines Police and South King County Fire and Rescue. By the time first responders came to the scene, the distraught man climbed into a tree near Building 99, ready to use the rope on himself. First responders talked to the man, successfully convincing him to come down from the tree. After the turmoil settled the individual was transported to a nearby hospital for an evaluation. Sgt. George Curtis of Public Safety said this was the first time he has encountered someone attempting to endanger their own life on campus.

Staff member passes out

Public Safety said the actions of the staff member who reported the incident is an excellent example of how “see something, say something” could potentially save a life. A staff member was reported to have passed out in Building 4 at 8:10 a.m. The person was sitting in their chair when they lost consciousness, then fell out, hitting their head on the ground. Public Safety arrived but the staff member refused any medical treatment.

Late night fast food runs a no-no

A suspicious car was spotted on campus at 1:35 a.m. on May 28 by a Public Safety officer. The car was occupied by two students and parked between buildings 29 and 22. The two students had gone to Jack in the Box and decided to eat the fast food on campus. They were told by the officer to leave because campus was closed.


Learn all about Safe Zones

Allies of the LGBTQIA community along with faculty and staff will be hosting a Safe Zones training program, next month. Safe Zones is a program identifying individuals in the school community who are safe and supportive allies of LGTBQIA students and faculty. The Safe Zones training is put on by Highline’s Multicultural Affairs organization. The program is about learning more about the queer community and to build skills to use on the Highline campus and out in other communities. The LGBTQIA Taskforce has been working on creating a basic curriculum for the Safe Zones training that not only provides information that may seem basic or simple. Anyone is welcome to the Safe Zones training. The training will be June 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Writing Center, Building 26 room 319i.

Annual Vicom Portfolio Show is next week

Highline is hosting its annual portfolio show next week. Design students will show off their work and achievements on June 5 - 6. The show is in Building 8, Mt. Olympus room from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

Faculty awards nominations due

The annual vote for Highline’s Outstanding Faculty Awards has been extended June 5. The Highline College Foundation provides two $1,500 awards to be presented to Highline College’s Outstanding Faculty of the Year. Nominations can be made by any student, staff member, faculty member or administrator of Highline. A person may make only one nomination for each award. Further detainominations need to consist of written statements from both the nominator and then a second reference that gives specific emphasis to the nominee’s contribution to education at Highline. Nominations need to be submitted to the Selection Committee in the Office of Instruction, Mailstop 9-2, by 5 p.m. on June 5.

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