“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence..”
Having a sense of patriotism to the country we call America can be fleeting.
After all, as a millennial and an African-American (with sprinkles of West Indian and Puerto Rican seeds), I can unapologetically say I’ve felt proud to be an American about four times in my life.
In a timeline of sorts, it started with the love felt around New York after September 11, 2001, both times Barack Obama won the presidency, marching with thousands to demand justice for Blacks killed at the hands of police officers as of late and last week’s plethora of wins (Affordable Health Act’s secureness for all, marriage equality for the LGBT community and everyone stepping up to bring down the Confederate flag).
These moments gave me a sense of pride and fulfillment to know my country is actually growing up. We did it. We’re finally free. Right?
What followed was a cultural and racial divide that still lingers on today. How can I feel patriotic when my brothers and sisters are profiled from the projects hallways to corporate buildings?
For me, to love America is to love all the greatness and hardships it represents. My love-hate story with America isn’t new and essentially not exclusive to me.
“Sometimes I did the same abusing my power, full of resentment…”
It’s hard to see America from different perspectives other than our own. We’re a melting pot of culture. I won’t say African-Americans are at the bottom of said pot, but we aren’t the ones stirring it. Statistics have shown nearly 500 people have been killed at the hands of police officers since the beginning of the year (a hefty portion of those are African-Americans, people in crises or mentally ill people). Other studies also show that terror attacks inflicted on Americans are at the hands of home grown extremists.
But, there’s another gleam of hope that we don’t give enough credit to. Activist Bree Newsome made it happen for everyone when she took down South Carolina’s Confederate flag from its hinges at the Statehouse. The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report revealed businesses owned by African-American women have grown 322 percent since 1997. Black women own an average of 1.3 million businesses in America. And these are wins, while few and far between, that make me proud to be both a Black woman and an American woman. That is what I call patriotism.
“…So I went running for answers, until I came home”
Like the many African-Americans who walked the world before me, my pride in the country comes with a little aggression. To appreciate where we’re going as a community, we must first understand Black trauma in this country. But as we embark on a new journey in this country — we’re in the midst of what is the largest Black liberation movement in recent years (BlackLivesMatter) — I believe I know where my independence lies.
It’s to my people, who will certainly change the face of this country. I’ll wave a flag to that.
Desire Thompson is a contributing writer for NewsOne.com and GlobalGrind.com. You can follow her on Twitter @Desire_Renee.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
20 Pictures That Show The Powerful Resilience Of Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church
1. Mother Emanuel AME Church held its first service since the shooting death of nine African-American church members on June 17.Source:Alex Colby 1 of 20
2. People line up to enter for Sunday service at the Emanuel AME Church.Source:Getty 2 of 20
3. Two children wait to enter the Emanuel AME Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.Source:Getty 3 of 20
4. A member of the church is seen outside of Emanuel AME before its first service since the Charleston shooting.Source:Getty 4 of 20
5. A Charleston County sheriff's deputy checks bags as people line up to enter for Sunday service at the Emanuel AME Church.Source:Getty 5 of 20
6. Gloria Moore watches the church as parishioners take their seats at the Emanuel AME Church.Source:Getty 6 of 20
7. A woman prays as she attends the Sunday service outside of the Emanuel AME Church.Source:Getty 7 of 20
8. People pray and listen to the Sunday service outside of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.Source:Getty 8 of 20
9. Parishioners sit at Emanuel AME Church four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of its pastor and eight others.Source:Getty 9 of 20
10. The Rev. Norvel Goff, right, prays at the empty seat of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.Source:Getty 10 of 20
11. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., embraces U.S. Sen Tim Scott, R-S.C., at Emanuel AME Church.Source:Getty 11 of 20
12. A parishioner prays at the empty seat of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney at the Emanuel AME Church.Source:Getty 12 of 20
13. The congregation departs following Sunday services at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.Source:Getty 13 of 20
14. A family is seen leaving Emanuel AME Church following Sunday services.Source:Getty 14 of 20
15. People embrace as they depart the Emanuel AME Church following Sunday services.Source:Getty 15 of 20
16. Church members comfort one another after Emanuel's first service since the Charleston shooting.Source:Alex Colby 16 of 20
17. Church members comfort one another outside of Emanuel.Source:Alex Colby 17 of 20
18. A mother and son surround a memorial for the nine church members killed during the Charleston shooting.Source:Alex Colby 18 of 20
19. Charleston natives comfort each other during the church's first service since the shooting on June 17.Source:Alex Colby 19 of 20
20. Activist DeRay McKesson is seen outside of Emanuel AME church.Source:Alex Colby 20 of 20
What It Means To Be A Black American On Independence Day was originally published on newsone.com