Jaylen Brown Explained The Connection Between The National Anthem And Systemic Racism

There has been a concerted effort from players and coaches during the NBA and WNBA restarts to keep attention on the issues of social justice whenever possible. Most every player availability features some sort of statement on the racial injustice the Black community faces, calls for the police who killed Breonna Taylor to be arrested, and/or calls for people to get out and vote.

Jaylen Brown has been one of the most prominent voices in speaking out against racial injustice in recent months, as the Celtics third-year star wing has taken on a leadership role in the league and the community. During the bubble, Brown has used his press conferences to call attention to issues he finds critical, encouraging people to get out and vote and, on Sunday, taking some time to lay out why he appreciates the league allowing players to peacefully protest during the anthem — and why the anthem itself is an example of systemic racism in the United States

“I want to address the national anthem. I want to show my solidarity to the NBA and Adam Silver for allowing us to peacefully protest some of the injustices that we felt. Proud of the Boston Celtics as well. Angela Davis once said that racism is so dangerous not because of individual actors but because it’s deeply embedded in the apparatus. I think about that quote a lot when I think about the national anthem, which was written by Francis Scott Key, who was a slave owner. When we talk about the national anthem we don’t talk a lot about the third verse that was written, which addresses slavery, mentions there’s no hope for a “hierling” or a slave but the gloom of the grave. So, racism is so deeply embedded in our country that people don’t even flinch or even shift at the idea, it kind of is what it is. It’s not the police officers or police brutality — it is, all of that is important — but it’s also the framework that starts systemic oppression, and that’s starting with the national anthem. I think being able to take a knee is appropriate, and it may not even be enough. But I’m proud of the NBA for being a part of the right side of how people feel.”

That third verse Brown references goes as follows.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Brown’s point is to show how deeply ingrained racism is in America and why the steps to eradicate must go so much farther than many are willing to admit. He continues to come to his postgame pressers not just wanting to talk about these issues, but is well prepared with examples to help prove his point. His comments are based in fact and he presents those to back up his points, which make them all the more powerful and make them impossible to ignore.