I was surfing the web this morning, which is my usual Saturday morning exercise in search of information and news. I ran across this link:
Shai Warfield-Cross, a 16 year old African-American girl, sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem before an athletic event at Bloomington High School North in Indiana.
As an aside, how many times have we heard the term “rendition” in connection with the National Anthem. Rendition is defined in Webster as “a performance or interpretation of a piece of music, a role, etc. … a translation or version.”
Shai has apparently sung the Anthem at sports events over the last year without incident. However, school officials received complaints about this performance. Apparently, someone complained that the “tune was unrecognizable and should be more traditional to ensure the song’s tune is recognizable.” An additional criticism was that someone “felt the rendition was disrespectful to current and former members of the military.”
Shai’s response, “I really felt confused. I felt bad, like I was doing something wrong.”
I have a few thoughts from the perspective of a an African-American man who is a law enforcement officer, whose brother is also a law enforcement officer, a son and nephew, whose father and uncles served this great country in World War II, the cousin of a Vietnam veteran and a Desert Storm veteran, and the uncle of 2 nephews who both served in Iraq.
1) You have got to be kidding me! Read the dictionary and check the definition of “rendition.”
2) Shai’s rendition was both recognizable as the National Anthem and within the bounds of traditionalism. Listen for yourself and you be the judge.
3) With family that has served in 4 different wars and a job to serve and protect all citizenry, what is really disrespectful to our military, past and present, is an effort by these extremists to trample on the First Amendment (freedom of expression)-which happens to be one of those rights in our democracy that our brave men and women fight daily all around the world to preserve.
4) It is disgraceful for a faction of adults to dampen the courage and enthusiasm of this 16 year old young lady, who is a high school choir member and performer in the Bloomington Playwrights Project, causing her to say “I felt really confused and bad, like I was doing something wrong.”
5) It is even more disgraceful that a school administration theoretically dedicated to learning and the performing arts would buy into this veiled criticism and regulate the teenager instead of these misguided adults.
6) I hope that these same misguided adults are around when Shai gets her first Grammy, appears on Broadway, sings at the Metropolitan Opera, or sings the National Anthem at the Super Bowl because she is a megastar.
7) Lastly, and most importantly, even if she does not do any of those things, I hope and pray that Shai doesn’t let this bad experience discourage her from pursuing her dreams and goals, only then, will these narrow minded extremists have prevailed.
Read, learn, and share…..Have a Family Meeting!