R&B artist and actress Jill Scott ignited controversy by altering the lyrics of the American National Anthem during a live performance, suggesting the U.S. is a state that perpetuates oppression.
Scott's performance occurred on the second day of the Essence Festival where she addressed the issue of perceived systemic racism in America, asserting that the country doesn't uphold its reputation as "the land of the free."
The lifestyle magazine Essence commented, "Everyone please rise for the only National Anthem we will be recognizing from this day forward. Jill Scott, we thank you!"
Everyone please rise for the only National Anthem we will be recognizing from this day forward.
— ESSENCE (@Essence) July 5, 2023
The lyrics said:
"Oh say can you see by the blood in the streets / That this place doesn’t smile on you colored child / Whose blood built this land with sweat and their hands / But we’ll die in this place and your memory erased / Oh say, does this truth hold any weight / This is not the land of the free, but the home of the slaves!"
In a prior interview with Jemele Hill, Scott has expressed thoughts of leaving the United States because of its racial environment, with hopes of finding a superior education system elsewhere.
"There are some things you don't have to deal with in other countries. We're looking at Holland… The education is dope, the healthcare is dope. There's very few confines on your personality. If you want to go get some a-- or buy some a-- ain't nobody tripping on you… I like the idea of people being able to be free as long as you're not harming anybody."
To voice their objections against perceived racial inequity, performers and athletes have harnessed their platforms, such as stage performances and sports events, to underscore their concerns.
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