Celtics’ Jaylen Brown speaks out on the racism embedded in the US national anthem
But Brown used his postgame press conference to speak about the national anthem and racist overtones in the third verse of the anthem, which was written by slave owner Francis Scott Key.
Jaylen Brown says he's proud of the NBA for allowing players to take a knee + notes the national anthem was written by a slave owner and the third verse also references slavery: “Racism is so deeply embedded in our country that people don’t even flinch or even shift at the idea." pic.twitter.com/BXTSOyq8TI
— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) August 2, 2020
This is uncomfortable for Celtics fans, but the third verse is almost never sung in any capacity. Brown seems to suggest there is a sort of blind allegiance to the anthem as a reflection of American pride, without an understanding of the third verse of who Key was as a person.
Brown, of the Celtics, has not shied away from speaking out on social justice issues and matters of race in recent months.
The Georgia native drove 15 hours to Atlanta in order to lead protests in his home state following the death of George Floyd in May. Brown also criticized the NBA’s allowed social justice messages players could wear on the back of their jerseys, saying he felt the options were limited.
Of course, his comments regarding the anthem are more prominent given how NBA teams such as the Celtics have engaged in silent protest.
Most teams have presented a unified front in kneeling during the anthem. This includes Brown and the Celtics, who–along with the Milwaukee Bucks–knelt while the anthem played on Friday night.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) July 31, 2020
Not everyone has kneeled during the anthem. The Celtics are aware of this. Some players, such as Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac and Portland’s Meyers Leonard, decided to remain standing. So, too, did San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon. All of them had reasons for standing, whether or not they shared those reasons publicly.
Brown’s comments, however, appear to be aimed more at the general public. He would prefer Americans understand the history of the anthem and the man who penned it, before rushing to judge players choosing to kneel in protest of racial injustice.