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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Understanding and Respect - The Flag and Anthem Protest

You're angry because I don't feel overly patriotic when the national anthem plays.  You fail to understand, or maybe you just don't care that I was once considered 3/5 of a person under the flag you proudly display.  You are proud of your family heritage and can track your descendants flawlessly through centuries of records.  You fail to understand that my descendants were forcefully taken from Africa away from their families, enduring inhumane conditions in a ship traveling across an ocean and forced into slavery. Simultaneously the government of the flag you are proud of was sanctioning the annihilation of the original inhabitants and culture of this country, the Native Americans.  Those same Native Americans you now honor by naming sports teams after.

But then I realize maybe you don't understand that enslaved Africans in these United States of America did not have the same normal family life your ancestors had? Any attempt to start a family was disrupted by the children of slaves being sold away from the mother and father.  Or the father or mother could be sold away from the family.  Many black families can never track their descendants based on this disruption of the normal family environment in the days of slavery.  So, you want us to still stand up straight, and put a hand over our heart when the national anthem plays?

You try to hide behind the mantra of "People who don't respect the flag of the United States are dishonoring the military by not standing."  I say you dishonor yourselves by hiding from the truth that the flag symbolizes more than just the military.  We agree that the flag can be a powerful symbol.  Just as you can agree that the  the Confederate flag raises up a variety of feelings among various people.

In a period where authorized officers of the law are killing black people as a first option, how can you expect black people to stand and pay homage to a symbol which we feel does not respect our lives? I wonder about those who don't accept the outrage we feel that our lives are not being respected.  It's as though you feel the number of black lives lost to law enforcement are within the realm of acceptability?

Well, it's not acceptable.  So we protest against the symbols you hold in such high esteem.  Apparently you've gotten the message as your outrage against the protests speaks for itself.  Reaction, counter reaction.  The nature of the human experience.  Maybe you want us to forget the past?  That's not the message we get when the anniversary of 9/11 comes around.  Then we're told, "never forget".