American Flag

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“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

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