Earlier this summer at a charity flag-football game thrown by Allen Iverson, Josh Howard (these men are all basketball players, apparently) made a derisive comment about the national anthem that has tipped off a storm of controversy. I wasn't familiar with this gentleman prior to this story but his message in the video is loud and clear: when the video pans to him during the singing of the anthem, Howard says:
The 'Star-Spangled Banner' is going on. I don't celebrate this sh**. I'm black.
That quote was followed by a string of the n-word and some indecipherable comments about Barack Obama. The owner of Howard's team, the Dallas Mavericks, said they've been dealing with the free-speaking incident and that ". . . we will be going through some advanced communication-skill sessions together this training camp." The comment raises an gripping question about free speech and what role race plays in a person's experience as an American.
To see the video, and analysis to the event, read more.
For ID purposes, Howard is the one with the towel on his head.
ESPN has run a very thoughtful analysis of the event, using this as historical context: in 2003, college basketball player Toni Smith was in a similar controversy for refusing to face the flag during the anthem, had a reason behind her actions. She said:
The flag means to me; first, it means it stands for the millions and millions of indigenous people who were massacred to claim it. It means the millions of those enslaved in order to build it up. And it means the millions of those who are still oppressed in order for it to prosper.
The author of the piece comes to this conclusion:
I doubt his words were a result of how he's been treated. This wasn't really about him. Think about where he was when he made the statements: Allen Iverson's charity flag football game, which raises money for scholarships to historically black colleges and universities. It's great that Iverson has organized this event, but it shouldn't have to exist. If the ideals of equality this country was founded on had always been met, there wouldn't have been a need for the historically black schools, and students wouldn't need donations to be able to attend them. So if we're going to be mad at what Howard said, we should be just as mad at the lengthy chain of events that led him to be where he was when he said it and we should do something about ending it.
Was Howard justified in his comments about the anthem? Does a person's race dictate how one feels about the country? Is this story less about what Howard said, and more about the events that might have led to it — or is that giving him too much credit?