Friday, May 1, 2015

Under the American Flag

Earlier today I watched a news report about an apparent new social media challenge called the "Eric Sheppard Challenge", named after a VSU student who is now the subject of a man hunt after carrying a weapon on campus during an anti-American flag protest. I understand that many of the people currently stomping on the flag are frustrated with things going on inside our country. However, I also believe we as American's should focus more on reforming and building our country up instead of tearing it completely apart. (we've had our own share of human rights violations as the rest of the world has.... slavery, WWII internment camps, etc.). Here's my letter, me writing as the devil's advocate of the logic of flag stomping, to those who wish to follow up on the "Eric Sheppard Challenge".

Dear "Flag-Stompers",

For 13 years of my life I stood up in a classroom with people of multiple socioeconomic and ethical backgrounds to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, stand at attention during the Star Spangled Banner, and even memorize the lyrics for our National Anthem. For five of those years I performed the Star Spangled Banner with people of multiple ethnic backgrounds before every Friday night football game. During my senior year of High School back in 2012, I helped raise the American Flag with the help of 8 fellow Cedartown High School Marching Band seniors. All of us from different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

America is far from perfect, however it's imperfections are what allows it to grow and become as close to perfect as possible. America's imperfections allow her to grow and change, sometimes more quickly than others, to adapt to what her citizens need. For without the ability to change, we would stay stagnant as the rest of the world move's forward.

Yes, America still faces racial tensions as we've all seen tighten in the past year. Yes, all American presidents, except President Obama, are/were white. However, was it not under the American flag that President Abraham Lincoln emancipated slavery? Was it not under the American Flag that Dr. Martin Luther King was able to give one of the most famous speeches, the "I Have a Dream Speech?" Was it not under the American Flag that we saw the civil rights act put in place? Is it not the American Flag by which President Obama stands?

It is no lie, racism has plagued the earth for at least the history from early colonization up to today. However, whether you realize it or not, racism is not because of the United States. It was an issue during the colonization of latin America in which Casta paintings portrayed a gradient that basically stated the darker the skin, the more savage the person. Also, did you know during the late 1880s that the phrase "White Man's Burden" was coined to describe how white Europeans had the burden of making African's "white" and "less savage'? Soap was even sold through advertisements that claimed it could turn an African's dark skin white. In fact, the country holding the colony suffering the most from white supremacy, the Congo, was Belgium. Hands were severed from people if a rubber quota was not met. Africans had no voice in what was happening to their land. The United States did not have a colony in Africa.

Again, I am not saying that America is completely white supremacist free. In fact, I never wrote that. During WWII, almost everyone on the west coast feared anyone who looked remotely Japanese. In fact, Japanese Americans were sent to interment camps. Before, during, and even after the civil war slavery was an issue that then turned to an issue of race after the Jim Crow laws took place.

However, despite looking at America's flaws that have happened under her flag, look at what has changed under her flag. Under the American flag we have the ability to stand up for our opinions. We have the ability to vocalize our opinions. We have the ability to see something that needs fixing, point it out, and stand up and fight for it.We have the ability to take same flag which represents our freedoms and comes off as a sign of hope to many, and stomp on it.

So, if you sincerely wish to display your anger towards America's "white supremacy", by all means, you have the freedom to do so. However, realize that you have the freedom to do so under the American Flag.

The devil's advocate

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