NASCAR Taps Mike Phillips to Play the National Anthem and He Seasoned It With a Dash of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’

Illustration for article titled NASCAR Taps Mike Phillips to Play the National Anthem and He Seasoned It With a Dash of Lift Every Voice and Sing

Photo: @NASCARONFOX (Twitter)

OK, NASCAR. We get it.

After waving Confederate flags in our faces for decades, while having nooses just hanging around everywhere like chandeliers, you love us now. You truly love us.

You banned the Confederate flag from your events despite the fact that it increased white-on-white crime by 472 percent, and in your latest bid to secure the Black vote, you tapped renowned saxophonist Mike Phillips to play the national anthem—or so you thought.

You see, prior to Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., Mike did play the national anthem—he and his pianist West Byrd just treated the people to a bit of a bonus.

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For those of us who have spent our lives mastering the Cupid Shuffle or refusing to renege at the Spades table, we immediately recognized that Byrd and Phillips slipped in “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” aka the Negro National Anthem, aka the Black National Anthem, at both the beginning and the end. But for our unseasoned counterparts, there was confusion abounds at Phillip’s “lovely” interpretation of the national anthem.

You’re right, Tricia. It wasn’t the national anthem. It was the national anthem sprinkled with a dash of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Y’all have been “woke” for an entire month now and still ain’t learned that shit yet?

If NASCAR is truly committed to making its sport more diverse and inclusive, impromptu treats like this shouldn’t have to be smuggled into live broadcasts. And as Phillips himself notes, NASCAR has a long way to go before Black folks will fully embrace the sport.

“The attempt of change is something that should be audited,” he told Oregon Live prior to his performance. “It can’t be just a blanket statement, ‘We support you.’ I want to see the receipts. NASCAR has been showing the receipts.”

Phillips also made it a point to note that his decision to perform was fueled by his desire to have Bubba Wallace’s back in light of all of the turmoil NASCAR’s lone black top-tier driver has faced lately.

“Everybody is blessed and gifted to do different things,” he said. “My thing is to support Bubba and support NASCAR’s true efforts to diversify and drive the racists out of their sport.”

I mean, shit. If we get more performances like this, I’m here for it. But those performances should also be coupled with extensive diversity and inclusion efforts that NASCAR initiates instead of just taking credit for.


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