What is a vocalist’s moral obligation

Summer H.-Abernathy, Culture Editor

We’ve all seen Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem. We’ve seen LeSean McCoy stretch, and we’ve seen other teams like the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers link arms. But someone who no one ever seems to pay any heed to is the artist performing the very song that people are protesting against.

Vocalist Rico LaVelle who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the Falcons vs. Lions game on Sept. 24 ended the song on one knee with a fist thrust in the air. This position in response to President Trump’s statement that the NFL players kneeling during the anthem should be fired is a creative alternative that all soloists can learn a lesson from — including myself.

Last year, I sang the national anthem for Ottawa Township High School’s football and cheer leading senior night, and I toiled over what stance I should take on the subject. Kaepernick had just recently began his protests, and I knew that I supported him, but I also knew that I had been chosen as soloist months prior and had an obligation.

I considered kneeling during the song, and I even considered bringing a chair onto the field. But in the end, friends and family told me to either sing the song or back out. I ended up singing, standing straight up, but I now recognize that there were more ways to express my protest. I could have taken a knee before or after the song, like LaVelle. Or I could have made some other smaller symbol of protest rather than simply follow the status quo.

At this time in America’s history, vocalists have a moral obligation to fight for the rights of those oppressed. Sure, they can back out of a performance, but there will always be other artists to take their place. There are ways to show protest besides resigning, and it takes a creative artist to figure out other ways to take a stand–or rather, a knee.