May 29, 2023

Black Patriotism should be treasured instead of ridiculed and reprimanded.

Black patriotism takes on many forms and is extremely adaptable. Peace is the obvious go-to. We love peace. Peace comes in the form of getting our message across with the sincere HOPE that change, both policy wise and in hearts and minds, will soon follow.

Peaceful shit. I love peaceful shit.

Get to marching. Get down on one knee. Chant, “WE WANT JUSTICE! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!” Sing Amazing Grace. You know, peaceful shit. And after the peaceful shit, we go home, with the hopes that maybe our peace did something extraordinary that day. That our peace can change the status quo just enough to save those victimized by it but to leave those of us alone who benefit from it.

Peace in our time..

But then, there is this other side of black patriotism. And it is patriotism. It’s the patriotism that’s uncomfortable. That uncomfortable patriotism is a little less calculated, a little more violent. It requires elevated heart rates. It requires you to break a sweat or two. Shed a tear or two. Bleed a little bit. That kind of black patriotism is more emotion base. Not as calculated, not as organized and not as pretty.

But in a sense, it’s just as pretty. When a building is being burned due to this other form of black patriotism, the flames tell a story. It tells a story of when black american patriots reach their boiling point, their emotions ignite, and their peace dies in the flames. Because their peaceful voices went unheard, unnoticed. But now you notice because you can’t help but notice. The flames weren’t ignited for your comfort. They were ignited to get your attention.

And that’s OK, right?

America is built on patriotism, both peaceful and non-peaceful. Violence isn’t new to this country. In fact, it’s ingrained in this country. From her gangs, to her guns, to her wars, America has never shied away from actions many would deem uncomfortable for the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Years of American propaganda, including reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” every morning and reading textbooks in history class that promoted America’s valor but hardly ever got around to explaining the country’s injustices, created this illusion that patriotism is only meant to praise America, and not challenge her.

Never made sense to me.

Because the books my daddy made me read growing up featured many souls, both black and white, who looked like patriots to me. Who sacrificed life and limb for rights, domestically, just as our patriotic troops sacrifice life and limb for rights overseas.

Fighting for inclusivity, equality and equity aren’t sabotaging patriotism…but attempting to promote it by proudly exercising constitutional liberties that were promised to them at birth. Therefore, if the criterion of American patriotism includes loving America blindly without challenging her faults, then that’s a flawed criteria that should be re-evaluated.

Maybe, just maybe black patriotism isn’t the problem.

Maybe it’s America.

Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance. 

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