The ideas behind the NFL’s kneeling protests during the national anthem have been muddled by President Donald Trump attacking the players who participate and agreeing with the powerful team owners who blackballed Colin Kaepernick out of a job. Players have been kneeling as a reaction to his words rather than as a protest to police brutality. It has created a debate on whether or not it’s disrespectful to our flag or our veterans or our national anthem to kneel. It isn’t.
When people argue that kneeling is disrespectful, they refuse to see the point of peaceful protest. They have decided this is not the way to do things, but are offering no alternate solution. The national anthem is supposed to stand for our country as a whole and make us feel unity, but it can’t, in part because of its vaguely racist lyrics — but none of these things are my real problem.
While I have a multitude of problems with the opposition to kneeling protest, the fundamentally overlooked problem is that the national anthem is kind of a hard listen.
People would certainly feel compelled to stand for a song if it actually was a banger, right? Right. Do we really want to stand up and pay tribute to a song that has not a single bass drop? No Metro Boomin? Not even a Lil Wayne feature? Not to mention there’s no Beyoncé.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” is droning and outdated. The last time it was enjoyable was Marvin Gaye’s soul rendition of the song in 1983. Marriage equality hadn’t even been legalized at that point. Rihanna hadn’t even been born yet! How can we stand for a song that was written before “Kiss It Better” was released? We can’t. It’s ridiculous to expect people to. I commend those with the strength to stand and listen to this anthem because I genuinely cannot — not in its current condition.
There is no doubt that the national anthem is due for an update. That update should come in the form of a contemporary hero, one right in front of our faces: Cardi B.
Cardi B is a national treasure. An icon. A strong Black woman. My president.
She has enhanced our culture time and time again with her Vines, Instagram videos and airtime on “Love And Hip Hop: New York” — and now her smash hit song. Cardi B produces proverbial one-liners one would expect from Oscar Wilde if he were still alive.
She makes clear the fact that she wants us all to succeed in life — and tries to help guide us in the right direction. It seems her purpose on this Earth is to inspire us all to make the best of our situations, never forgetting that we can improve upon our circumstances. In the span of less than three years, she managed to save enough money to quit stripping and become a successful rapper, all while creating hilarious content in her spare time. She’s infiltrated an industry previously reserved for Black men. Now she even has a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. “The Star-Spangled Banner” never made it to the Billboard Hot 100 at all and we’re still expected to care about it?
The solution to persuading more people to take a stand for the national anthem is to change the anthem to “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B.
“Bodak Yellow” is more fitting as an anthem. It showcases the new American dream: working so hard that you can become your own boss. She sings, “I’m a boss, you a worker,” promoting an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s also a song about women’s empowerment and how people across all backgrounds can be their best selves. Cardi B sings about how she “dropped two mixtapes in six months,” and questions who is “working as hard as [her].” Her message is that women can work hard and get all they deserve. If Cardi B goes shopping to treat herself for her hard work, she can buy both the pairs of shoes she wants, instead of choosing just one — because she’s earned them. It’s a universally understandable message.
“Bodak Yellow” includes everything that is missing in our current national anthem: good music and no reference to killing slaves. She’s truly spoiling us. Nothing would be more unifying than acknowledging the struggles of POC like Cardi B, than switching the national anthem to her song. Changing the anthem would be a start to more important changes in this country.
If you don’t agree that protesting and kneeling are justified — and you don’t see the need to change anything, at least consider this question: do we really want to live in a country where the national anthem doesn’t even slap?
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article used a lowercase “b” in the word “black,” instead of an uppercase “B.” The current version now uses the uppercase form of the word.