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American flag doesn’t respect black culture

Story by Dory Smith, Assistant Multimedia Editor

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I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice…for y’all, not us.

I remember having to stand up, put my right hand over my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school. I never felt any resentment, annoyance or disappointment toward the pledge during those times and who knew at 23 years old, as a college student, that I would see another young black woman be thrown out of school for choosing to sit in her seat during the pledge.

India Landry, a senior at Windfern High School in Houston, Texas, and her family filed a lawsuit against the school earlier this month after Landry was suspended for refusing to stand for the pledge.

According to Landry, she has never stood for the pledge, but since the recent National Football League protests initiated by football player and now social activist Colin Kaepernick, the school has an issue with it.

There’s a quote from Tupac Shakur where he says, “America wants its respect,” but I never understood what he meant until now.

White America has never treated blacks as equals. For hundreds of years black people were enslaved and the exact moment Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 it seems a plan was made to enslave us institutionally.

Maybe it wasn’t expected for us to see through the implicit racism, or let alone act on it, and it’s scary that our reactions have always caused a frenzy in a country that’s caused it.

When I think about the responses athletes like Colin Kaepernick and young black and Latino teens like India Landry have received based on their reactions to injustice and outright “discreet” racism, it makes Tupac’s quote not only timeless but clear.

It’s unrealistic for us to stay quiet or not respond to the ignorance we see against us, especially when social media shows us police interactions with young black men, which initiated the kneeling and sitting during The National Anthem and The Pledge of Allegiance in the first place.

Nevertheless, America wants its respect, and if you, as a minority, use your First Amendment right to not acknowledge the American flag, you’re being disrespectful to a country that’s always disrespected you.

That sounds stupid because it is stupid.

Racism is real and it comes in many forms. It exists. It’s present in our society and always will be (call me a pessimist, fine). Unfortunately, whether it’s blatant or hidden by excluding a man from the NFL or refusing a young woman education, we will always let America know that we’re aware.

We march. We protest. We kneel. We sit. We don’t cross our hearts and pledge to a flag that doesn’t respectively represent our culture, beliefs and lives.

There are tons of young India Landry’s in America, and although their actions stem from a dark place, it’s refreshing to know that the respect America wants, they won’t get from us until it’s reciprocated.

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