Respecting America as a Black Man

Submitted by Adrian on

I ran across this Meme on Facebook and I had to add my perspective to what was being discussed.

"I'm so old I remember when loving your country, respecting the flag, and obeying the law were considered good character traits"

Character is defined as:
1. the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
2. the distinctive nature of something.
3. the quality of being individual in an interesting or unusual way.
4. strength and originality in a person's nature.
5. a person's good reputation.

Rather than character we should be focusing more on our values as defined by Baha'u'llah:
1. Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.
2. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.
3. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.
4. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech.
5. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men.
6, Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.
7. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts.
8. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive.
9. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
10. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.
11. We pray God to protect thee from the heat of jealousy and the cold of hatred.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp 285)

I am old enough to remember when the quote in the meme was believed to be considered good character, but one has to admit that times have changed. We are much smarter (I hope) and can begin to understand the flaws in the above statement.

First thing I want to say is that critisism DOES NOT EQUATE to hatred!  So many assume this wrongly.

Today I find this meme triggering. As a Black man, I see the flaws in this statement and understand how, today, it is and has been used. People here should remember the Colin Kapernick Event. Colin had the nerve to protest police-killings of unarmed Black men. Most people don't remember (know) that the reason he took a knee was to protest but still be respectful, as it was the tradition that soldiers would "take a knee" in-order to show respect for a fallen comrade. The backlash that occurred because of hid protest was plastered all over the news by the Right, accusing Colin of disrespecting the flag and hating America. There was not one word about the message his protest was trying to shine a light on, and that is because this country has no love for Black people. (I know, we Baha'is are supposed to love everyone, and I did not say I did not love America, BUT protesting and shining a light on injustice IS American (or is it only in the case of injustices inflicted on White people)).

"Respecting the flag". What is that? What does it mean? Is it just an excuse to vilify someone who tries to point out injustice, someone who does not surrender to the status quo as they press their boot down on the necks they feel are their inferiors?

"Obeying the law". Let me ask, what is the purpose of law?

Definition: "a rule defining correct procedure or behavior" Is that what we have here in the US? We here have taken it to another level in that we use law to control different groups of people. After reconstruction we passed laws called "The Black Codes" and "Jim Crow" (many of which are still on the books) and the reason for those laws were to control Black people. They were not applied to everybody, but just to Black people.

What other reason were they applied to Black people only? Because in the 14th Amendment there is a loophole that gives the State the right to enslave those who have been found guilty of a crime. So the imprisonment of Black people was monetized so white people could continue to get free and cheap labor at the expense of (so-called) Free Black people.

And today that continues with the extravagant fines levied against Black people going about their everyday lives, again with Black people being the focus of the enforcement.

We also have the criminalizing of the Black Community as it is most often over-policed and under resourced which it the main catalyst of crime in our neighborhoods. But all black people are told it to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (which have also been taken away from up by white american society.

I am sure these statements might be inflaming many but it IS my truth which is completely different from everyone else here. To those who are melanin deficient this meme is probably in alignment with your experience, but with people who are not a part of the ruling class, this is just "The American Myth" and White people need to begin understanding our perspective. Just because you have not experienced Racism does not mean it doesn't exist. It does mean (as Baha'is) we have to start understanding this fact and also become aware of and accept the experiences of other people and how our "Race Neutral Systems" are anything but race neutral.

Ya'll may be thinking that I hate America but that is not the case.  I like all other Black people love this country.  The point is that we do not see America as perfect.  We are well aware of her flaws, but in spite of how much America has shown her hatred at Black people, we see America's potential, and our real problem with American is that it does not live up to her hype.  We love America enough to want to make her better.  White people need to help with that.

Also don't think here's another Black person bringing up race again. That is because White people have the privilege of Race not directly affecting their lives while, for Black People, Race IS a matter of Life and Death.

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