Patriotism and the Black Community

Image via SI.com

Image via SI.com

This is a nation that expects everyone on its soil to show respect and have pride in being here, despite of how you may have got here. Stand for the national anthem, respect the flag, respect American symbolism and reject American opposition. But for black Americans this sense of pride feels very different. America is responsible for centuries of racism, hatred, violence and systematic racism towards blacks and people of color. So what is exactly expected of African Americans when it comes to American patriotism?
A History of oppression
From 300 plus years of slavery and 150 plus years of segregation, black Americans have only been considered “free” for  a little over 50 years and still we are treated as lower class citizens.  Various discriminatory laws passed over the years has resulted in blacks being pushed into ghettos and having less funding for our schools, resulting in less education and less opportunities. Blacks are more likely to be racially profiled and are disproportionately represented in the prison system. And with police brutality at a all time high, all of these factors has had an effect on how America is viewed in the eyes of black people. Unlike our white counterparts, black Americans don’t feel a sense of pride or enjoyment when it comes to engaging in or showing patriotism for the United States. Imagine how difficult it is to be expected to respect a nation that has been oppressing you since its very existence. There has not been one time in the history of the United States that black people have been treated 100 percent equal or fair. So what do we owe this nation? 
Kaepernick controversy
In light of the (not so) recent incidents of police brutality,  resulting in the death of many innocent black men, women and children, people are deciding to take stands in many different ways.  San Francisco 49ners Quarterback Colin Kaepernick faced much criticism after choosing to kneel in recognition of the American flag and anthem, stating that he refuses to stand for a flag that represents the many injustices that people of color face in this country. After this very bold usage of his freedom of speech, Kaepernick faced many critics claiming that his move was “unpatriotic” and disrespectful to the U.S.A. But many others supported his decision, questioning the hypocrisy of his critics. Isn’t this country based off the idea of freedom? (even though that idea is not always achieved) Shouldn’t all citizens of this nation be able to exercise their constitutional rights? In this nation freedoms and rights are based off of color and unfortunately black Americans get prosecuted for exercising the same freedoms as their white counterparts. But in the same sense,  we are expected to be patriotic and loyal to a nation that has never had our best interest at heart. What Kaepernick did was exercise his right to stand up for what he believes in. if that means making the choice to not stand for  the national anthem, the constitution supports his right to do so. Critics of him only have a problem with is protest because of the misconception that racism and police brutality doesn’t exist in this country. The truth makes people uncomfortable and Kaepernick stance brought light to situations that have been kept in the dark.
So the question remains?
Over the centuries countless black militia, both men and women have lost their lives fighting for a country that has never valued them. Black police officers and politicians servicing cities and neighborhoods of a nation that serves them injustices everyday. The thousands of black men rotting away in prisons for non violent offenses with exorbitant sentences. Millions of kids growing up going to underfunded schools and living in poor neighborhoods due to practices of redlining  that have kept black people disadvantaged for centuries. So If black people have reservations when it comes to showing patriotism,  can you blame them? In reality this country was built off the backs of black people, just for us to continue to be mistreated and systematically oppressed. If you talk to a black person that has a problem displaying patriotism, have a understanding of them. Being black in America  isn’t and has never been easy. We are not going anywhere because our ancestors built this country and now we will fight for what we believe in. We will not show patriotism until the systematic oppression of our people has ended and justice is served.
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Paris Pace
Paris Pace

Class of 2014 Central Michigan graduate. Lover of reading and writing poetry. I enjoy the simple things.

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