Editorial: Ames Marching Band protest is very ‘American’


Rahemma Mayfield

Ames High School marching band drumline.

Editorial Board

A Fox News columnist Todd Starnes called a recent protest by Ames High School Marching Band un-American, disgraceful and sickening. The ISD Editorial Board respectfully disagrees. 

At the game, 13 band members hooked arms and walked off the field during a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of the Ames football game versus Des Moines Lincoln, according to the Ames Tribune.

The protest is just one of many surrounding the national anthem across the country. Though some may interpret the protest disrespectful, it also makes a statement in a peaceful manner. 

However, just as we said in a previous editorial about NFL stars kneeling, we again reiterate that this protest is not about the national anthem or patriotism, it’s about injustice. It’s about the injustice people of color face, particularly with police brutality. 

Put simply, peacefully protesting is American. Wanting less injustice, and making your voice heard about it, is very much American. But that’s really not what the conversation should be about. Rather, the conversation should revolve around police brutality and race relations in America.

“White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers,” according to a Washington Post analysis. “African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population.”

This discrepancy is certainly related to other biases and injustices people of color face. Stanford’s Center on Poverty and Inequality found that while some disparities have improved during the past few decades, inequalities still exist across housing, health care and income levels.

Stop changing the message. This is the conversation we are supposed to be having. This is the problem we should be hoping to find a solution to.

And if you must talk about how people are peacefully protesting, then at least give those protesters the courtesy of discussing the topic that they are protesting. 

It is also inspiring to see young people being civically engaged. There are consistent stereotypes, some for good reason and some not, that millennials are self-absorbed and care little about society at large. For example, millennials have typically held lower voting turnouts

These Ames High School students are defying those stereotypes. And whether or not you disagree with their protest mechanism, their actions of standing up to injustice in a peaceful manner should be commended.