Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ohio State President Defending Separatism?

Recently, a friend told me about the Step Show he attended at The Ohio State University. On May 2, 2009 over 1400 people, mostly black, gathered at the Wexner Center for the event. My friend was shocked when the crowd was asked to stand for the Black National Anthem. OSU President Gee was in attendance and proudly stood for the Black National Anthem. The National Anthem was not even mentioned. I thought this couldn't be, so I checked into it. Seems like a disgrace, doesn't it? Seems separatist, doesn't it? Seems divisive, doesnt' it? Apparently not to Mr. Gee or the organizers of the event. Mr. Gee had this to say when I asked why he stood and supported this disgrace.
I stood because that is a sign of respect for the community. Respecting the multicultural traditions within our community does not diminish, but enhances, our patriotism as Americans.
Singing the Black National Anthem instead of the National Anthem at an event is tradition? When did that happen? I further asked Mr. Gee how the Black National Anthem can be multicultural when it excludes all cultures except one. The National Anthem includes everyone. The National Anthem unites. The National Anthem is the national anthem. This separatism flies in the face of all the racial battles America has fought and won. People, black and white, together, marched, fought, and many died to end separatism. How can a university president endorse this? It's a slap to all those heroes who sacrificed for the cause of unity and equality. To take it a step further, it's tradition in many cultures to slap around women. Are we to respect that to enhance our patriotism?

The two student groups that sponsored the event are the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Ohio Union Activities Board. I contacted both. Initially, the Assistant Director sent an email that she would respond at her earliest convenience. Apparently, it was never convenient. She would not respond. The 2009 Step Show Advisor, Ms. Rutledge, did respond with this.
The Black National Anthem heard at this year's show was keeping with the tradition of performing the anthem at Heritage Festival events.
It's tradition to keep separatism alive?

Ms. Rutledge invited me to contact her if I had further questions. I did. Asking why is there a Black National Anthem? Further, what is meant by the lyrics "True to our native land" What land is being referred to? I've read that it refers to Africa. Is that accurate? Ms. Rutledge chose not to respond.

No matter how you spin it, this is separatism. After all these years and all the struggles, is this where America is headed?