Among all the comebacks, performances, disappointments, and surprises of the 2020 Super Bowl, one couple is making headlines: Jay Z and Beyoncé.
This past Sunday, as Demi Lovato sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl, the attending couple Jay Z and Beyoncé and their daughter chose to remain seated. Since it is a tradition to stand and respect the flag and armed troops, this decision sparked controversy among those watching.
The national anthem controversy dates back to 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the Star Spangled Banner performance to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Although his actions garnered a lot of criticism and backlash from fans and politicians, it also brought attention to the issue and multiple public figures expressed their support of Kaepernick. Other football players and even soccer and other sports teams have taken Kaepernick’s lead and knelt during national anthems. On Sunday, Jay Z and Beyoncé brought this issue back to the light, and people have speculated that they remained seated to support Kaepernick. Many support the couple’s decision because of this.
Some people, however, are confused, since Jay Z has expressed support of Kaepernick before, but recently partnered with the NFL for events like the Super Bowl. Since Kaepernick accused the NFL of preventing him from being signed by a team since the 2016 controversy, it seemed contradictory for Jay Z to partner with them.
Others are upset because The Star Spangled Banner represents the country and the army. Some feel that sitting does not pay respect to those who have made the country what it is. The Star Spangled Banner is connected to the army and the armed forces because before it became the national anthem, the song was used by the military. The song was played during flag-raising ceremonies in the Navy and became associated with national and ceremonial purposes in both the Navy and Army in the early 1900s. Later, on March 3, 1931, the Star Spangled Banner became the national anthem. The connection between the nation’s troops and the national anthem remains, however, and staying seated or kneeling during the anthem can be seen as disrespecting the armed forces.
Despite the controversy, it is undeniable that Kaepernick and Jay Z and Beyoncé’s actions have brought to light the issue of racial inequality and sparked debate on police brutality. Even with the backlash, these public figures achieved the goal of increased publicity and have added to the conversation on these issues.