Is this really our flag?This question comes on the heels of what is being called ‘The Eric Shepard Challenge’. The challenge essentially consists of individuals or groups of individuals being photographed or video recorded while standing on the American flag. I neither condemn nor condone these actions. However, I do feel that the birth of this challenge sparks a much needed dialogue within the “black” community.
Simply posing the question, “Is this really our flag?”, will undoubtedly be viewed as unpatriotic by many. However, the mere fact that the question at hand generates such an emotional reaction is an indication of its significance. Therefore, I believe this topic is worthy of a critical analysis. As “African-Americans” we should truly step back and ask ourselves, “Is this flag that we’re taught to pledge allegiance to really our flag?”
Over the last several decades many leaders and activists within our community have been very vocal regarding their views on patriotism. Essentially, we are often asked to exhibit unwavering loyalty to a country that has been everything but loyal to us. In the case of those who serve in the military they are required to serve and fight for a country that has historically waged war against their families for generations.
When Muhammad Ali represented the U.S in the 1960 Olympic Games he won the gold medal, and yet when he returned to his hometown of Louisville, KY he was denied service at a lunch counter. Additionally, he refused to enter the draft and was stripped of his heavyweight title. Ali is quoted has having stated the following:
“My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. ... Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people?”
It is my hope that it can be understood that I mean no disrespect when citing military service. In fact, I have many close friends and family members that are serving or have served, and I realize that there is a great degree of complexity surrounding why individuals chose to do so. Having said that, I am of the same mindset of Mr. Ali; the military and political conflicts of the U.S and their campaigns of colonialism should not automatically become our concern. Especially considering that our people and those like us are often the victims of such pursuits.
Realistically, this is not our country. Regardless of how much we strive to integrate, we must not forget that we are prisoners of war. If we dare take an honest assessment of history we clearly find that our ancestors were the victims of an unprovoked war in which several other nations conspired to destroy us. The war(s) waged against our ancestors occurred prior to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the agenda was imperialism and acquisition of natural resources. Of our forefathers, those who were not killed became prisoners of war, and subsequently, slaves in a foreign nation. In the grand scheme of things we are an abducted and abused child, and at no point should a child that is abducted and abused by a stranger ever feel at ease in that stranger’s house. This is exactly what we’ve done; we have become cozy in our house of bondage. In fact, we’ve become so comfortable in the land of our captivity that many have adopted the mindset that we are equal partners or roommates in this house. The inconvenient truth is that we’re still just 'the help'. Please consider this quote by Malcolm X:
“When the master said that "we have a fine home here," the house Negro said, "Yes, we have a fine home here." When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with his master he'd say, "What's the matter boss, we sick?" His master's pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master's house out than the master himself would.”
The quote above is very much relative to the recent protests in Baltimore which were sparked by the murder of Freddie Gray. The protesters/rioters were said to have been destroying their own community, but again, the inconvenient truth is that not only is the city of Baltimore master’s house; this entire country is master’s house. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that an increasing number of “African-Americans” are adopting the position that this is not our community, not our country, and not our flag. Referring back to the earlier analogy involving the abducted child and the stranger, what logical motivation would the abused child have to put out a fire when the stranger’s house is burning?
Global victimization under foreign flags:
Within the last week, approximately 1,000 Ethiopian Israelis gathered outside national police headquarters in the capital to protest the beating of an IDF soldier. The Ethiopian man, Damas Pakedeh, became the victim of an unprovoked attack carried out by two police officers. The video shows that Damas was wearing his military uniform when the confrontation ensued. When such reports surface it is a reminder of how we are often hated even when wearing their national flag.
(Note) The Israeli flag is marked with what is said to be the Star of David; however no such star is recorded anywhere in scripture.
Regarding the recent incident of police brutality in Israel, another Ethiopian Israeli soldier is on record as saying “I protect the country, we don’t deserve this, we are Jews…the police who did it must receive prison time.” A non-Ethiopian present at the time agreed saying, “it’s a racist society.”
Knowing that both Ethiopian Jews and African-Americans are actually Hebrews of Israelite heritage, I believe that what we’re seeing is, in part, the age-old blood feud between Jacob and Esau. Much like the Ethiopians in Israel, African-Americans in the U.S seem to be under the impression that we’re in a 50/50 partnership with the regimes that we live under. Given all that has been outline in this article we should truly ask ourselves, “Is this really our flag?”