This country is my home, and I am grateful for the freedom and opportunities it has afforded my family and me. But for a variety of reasons, I find patriotism something difficult to embrace. For some, this is a no-brainer, but this isn’t very easy for many, especially in my community. Somewhere along the way between saying the national anthem in grade school and getting “woke” in my early 30’s, the word patriot became hate speech. For most of my adult life, I couldn’t see how anyone could be proud to be an Amerikkkan. What is there to be proud of? Are you proud that this country owned slaves and of its racist history? Until recently, whenever I heard the word “patriot,” the term ‘racist’ came to mind. The picture of a gun tooting, confederate flag-waving, middle-aged white man who hates black people came to mind. Does this man exist? Perhaps, But the truth is that image does not reflect most American patriots. That image, I learned, is a media-created caricature of people who love this country and are fighting for it to remain the land of the free.
My mentality was to “throw the whole nation away.” But since I have had this political awakening, which has driven me to pray for America, I began to think deeper about patriotism and question to what degree I should take pride in being American, if at all. I battled with whether or not I should “waste time” praying for a country that, despite its good, is doing and has done evil. I observed how different it seemed Black and White Americans viewed the country and patriotism. I wondered what God had to say concerning patriotism. Though I no longer felt anger and resentment towards America, I am still very mindful of what many in my community are facing and have faced. How should a Young Melanated Christian Conservative Woman view patriotism? I made sure to list all of these attributes because they play a role in how I see the world. As I was pondering all of these things and asking these questions, the following scripture came to mind:
“And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” –Jeremiah 29:7
The thought that followed upon reading this was many of us have been cursing the very land we expect to yield fruit from. We are working to build prosperity in a nation we resent. We will stand by and let it be destroyed because we don’t seem to be getting justice. But what if this scripture is the key to the equality and justice we have been fighting for? What if, in our prayers for the land’s good, God gave us strategy, favor, and wisdom for actions that would destroy oppression, injustice, and racism where it still exists in this country? Our human nature wants to join in with those chanting, burn it all down in our grieving for what has been done. But why tear down what your ancestors built by force in one generation and with pride in the preceding generations? I woke up from not caring about the threats posed to this country from without and within, to realize that not only am I on that ship that could sink, but there’s no other ship like it, and there are precious lives on it worth saving and fighting to preserve.
Every thought of anger and righteous indignation for what Black Americans have faced in this nation are valid. As much as many Americans want to move past the issue of racism, there must be sensitivity to the fact that a generation is still alive who has lived through legalized discrimination. Moreover, many in the Black Community are still being unfairly treated because of skin color. This country’s history and it’s not so distant past of oppression is something that no one should expect Black Americans to easily overlook and forget. It is unforgettable, especially since many live in the results of what has been done and are under psychological warfare waged primarily through mainstream media. Those who love this country must be aware and sensitive that African Americans should not be expected to simply fall in love with being American. Their ancestors, unlike my parents and other immigrants, did not come here by choice. There needs to be conversations, understanding, patience, and prayer.
I also believe that Black Americans can and should come to a place of embracing this nation and seeking its good despite this nation’s history. Just as it is written, in its peace, you will have peace. We have access to a level of freedom and grace in this nation that the vast majority of the world does not. We can’t do anything about the past but have unprecedented access and the ability to shape our future. I believe that we can and should embrace patriotism. It’s not about being decked out in American flag gear or singing the national anthem every day. The patriotism I believe we should embrace is gratefulness to God and prayerfully seeking this land’s good by getting involved and informed, embracing our rights and freedoms, defending them, and working them to our advantage, especially since this is home… for now 🙂
Now, I am in a place of seeing America for what it is, the good and the bad, thankfulness for the opportunities that being here has afforded me, writing and vlogging, praying, and seeking God for this nation’s good. It feels good to be in a place where I can, without hesitation, say, God Bless America.