Labels, Flags and the USA

I was on the bus heading to work this morning. There was a small child sitting across the aisle from me. He couldn’t have been more than two years old. He was sitting on his mother’s lap taking it all in. He was also black.

I thought to myself, “My god, this child was born in a country that is heading towards a great divide and if he’s not strong and well-prepared, it will minimize him and make him believe he is a second or third class citizen.”

I’m not one to label myself. I don’t think of myself as an American unless someone asks me. In fact, on my arrival back into the States from my trip to Australia last year I was taken aback when the TSA agent said, “Welcome home.” Home? I know this’ll sound corny  to some but home is where my heart is and it is certainly not in the country I just happened to be born in.

Puerto Rican? Yes I was born to Puerto Rican parents but I’ve never set foot on the island. A man? A New Yorker? Honestly, I don’t identify with these labels unless I’m forced to pigeon-hole myself into one of them. With that said I find it hard to “see” the color of someone’s skin or their nationality. I can see if you’re an asshole or untrustworthy thought, but that all comes in time.

The thing that happened in Charleston, SC this past week was horrific. As a nation and as a community we must rise up to this kind of violence, denounce it, and make sure it never happens again. There are lots of ways to start this but I propose that the best start would be to have the Confederate flag removed from the top of the South Carolina State Capitol.

I understand that it’s flown high in the sky to honor those who died during the American Civil War and that is commendable IF the American South fought for something other than “states’ rights,“ or what is otherwise known as the right to employ cheap labor, i.e. black slavery, in order to maintain its economic viability.

For many people including myself, it is a symbol of oppression. It is a symbol of rebellion against the true flag of the United States of America. It is a slap in the face to those who were hoarded on ships, shackled and brought against their will to this land and tortured and worked to death. It is a slap in the face to those peoples’ ancestors and it needs to be brought down.

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