Today’s Patriotism: Critiquing with Love

There’s a lot to think about during this year’s 4th of July weekend.

Celebrating American Independence within the frame of the Black Lives Matter protests, police brutality, treatment of COVID-19 by the President, uncovering sexual assaults and murders against women in the military… it only feels like a contridiction.

It’s hard for me to find what there is to celebrate about this country.

But I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Just because I educate myself about the flaws of the United States, doesn’t mean I hate it and think it’s terrible and leave it at that.

That would be like critiquing someone else’s work and saying it’s bad but not giving any substantial advice on how to fix it.

For those who are only hearing the complaints about how this country is ran, know that‘s what you’re electing to hear and you’re actively ignoring the real critiques and suggestions activists are making to MAKE IT BETTER.

And it’s an excuse to say you haven’t seen the suggestions. If you really cared and wanted to know what abolishing the police means, you would click on that link and read an article that was shared or swipe through that instagram post explaining it.

What’s great about living in the U.S. is being able to speak about what you believe in. To be able to educate yourself on what’s going on around you and make informed decisions. To then be able to critique our own country and point out its flaws so that we can do the work to be better.

Patriotism is a loaded word. These days, conservatives are more likely to claim the term “patriot” than liberals.

Patriotism is being devoted and loving your country, as well as upholding its ideals.

I think you can love your country while still pointing out it’s flaws.

I feel like conservatives who claim to be patriots are more concerned with maintaining the status quo. They are willing to blindly follow and trust the systems put in place.

I saw this post on Facebook that reflected how I feel about what it means to be a patriot in the United States today:

To make an analogy in case it is hard to wrap your mind around this:

You can’t make yourself a better person if you’re not going to acknowledge that you have flaws. But acknowledging your own flaws and wanting to change doesn’t mean you hate yourself.

In Hamilton, the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote, “America, you great unfinished symphony…”

He also wrote, “We will never be free until we end slavery.”

Yes, America is still unfinished.

But some believe that it is.

And we haven’t ended slavery.

It’s been turned into the prison system.

Recognizing this means that we have a long way to go to live out the ideals we built this country on.

And it’s okay for America to forever be unfinished.

It would be humbling for us to recognize that we’re never going to be perfect and there’s always ways we can be better.

Really though, patriotism is a word that humans made up. We can easily change (or enhance) the way we define that word.

Just like how the systems within the United States of America is made by humans, we can change those systems so that they reflect our ideals today.


Here’s a great article from NPR about Black Patriotism. It is also an episode on NPR’s Code Switch Podcast, if you’d rather listen. Article here.

Over the 4th of July weekend, Native Americans protested to prevent Trump’s rally at Mount Rushmore and several were arrested. Mount Rushmore is part of Lakota land and, according to treaties signed by the United States, the Lakota people and other tribes nearby have the right to assert their sovereignty.

I would also read up on why Mount Rushmore itself is controversial, to say the least.

The Black Hills Bail and Legal Defense Fund is collecting donations to help those that have been unjustly arrested. If you have the means, please consider donating here.

What Are You Sacrificing for Basic Human Rights?

I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. But when he won, in order for me to not spiral into panic, I thought to myself:

Chances are, whatever decisions he makes won’t effect me, so I won’t worry.

And that is a privilege and selfish thought.

Here’s why:

The people who need help the MOST, are the ones affected by his policies and decisions. Black people, Trans people, Dreamers, refugees, just to name a few who have been in the news lately.

They need policies put in place to make sure they aren’t discriminated against or to allow them to live somewhat comfortably in this country.

Least of all, feel like they have SPACE in this country.

In general, I believe people in the U.S. or who come to the U.S. want to make something of themselves, find a purpose, or simply just be able to live.

And isn’t that what the U.S. is known for? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Come here and you can be anything and everything.

So I feel like the government has a responsibility to help its citizens get there. There doesn’t have to be so many blockages and ladders to climb to deserve to be here. We CAN make it easy, or at least have a clearer path for those who want to take it.

But it has come clear to me that we just don’t want to.

The idea that you have to sacrifice part of yourself in order to deserve something should not apply to basic human rights.

To me, basic human rights include: access to health care, being able to make a living wage, living in a clean environment, having access to affordable housing, affordable education, having the right to choose what’s best for my body (as long as it doesn’t effect the health of others), being able to vote with ease… just to name a few.

But we all know that these things are only accessible to certain groups of people or only if we make the “right” decisions.

And in order for any kind of change to be made so that we CAN have these rights, we have to fight tooth and nail for those in power to not only hear us, but to actually take us seriously.

Hey, I know that this isn’t all Trump’s fault (although he is 100% problematic, runs a chaotic administration, and has rolled back so many progressive policies that Obama put in place).

But any President in the White House AS WELL AS those who get elected into congress and the senate have a responsibility to make sure these basic human rights are fulfilled.

So, in conclusion and to answer the title question, I’m not sacrificing much for my basic human rights because I have PRIVILEGE. And if you don’t need to sacrifice anything, then you have privilege too. Which means, WE have the responsibility to do what we can to help those who don’t have privilege to get their basic human rights.

Since the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve realized that I should be (and can afford) donating to non-profit organizations to help those in need. I will mention a few at the end of each blog post that I’ve donated to, to hopefully inspire you to do the same.

It’s Pride month so here are a few organizations that support the LGBTQ community:

LGBTQ Freedom Fund: Secures the safety and freedom of individuals in U.S. jails and immigrant detention.

Black Visions Collective: believes in a future where ALL Black people have autonomy, safety is community-led, and we are in the right relationship within in our ecosystems.

Why is Being “Colorblind” Harmful?

First, where does the term “colorblind” come from?

It was first used in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, in Justice Harlan’s dissent.

He argued that our “constitution is colorblind”, intending not to reject racial separation or segregation – or even prevailing notions of White racial superiority – but to challenge differential racial treatment. (63)

How is it used now?

White judicial and ideological systems use colorblindness to “mean that the recognition of race at all is a discriminatory and unconstitutional act”. (63)

Why is it harmful?

“Colorblind advocates often mobilize a superficial class analysis to suggest class organizes society and has supplanted race as a category of concern.” (64)

“The racist element of our national class system is erased and replaced with a neutral, non structural understanding of poverty. Meritocracy, the American Dream, and the achievement ideology are all reified by the colorblind attention to class.” (64)

So basically, it takes racism out of the equation when trying to solve poverty, or any other issue, for that matter. It’s blaming the class system, and taking it away from the true cause, systematic racism.

Of course, the color of one’s skin is not a determining factor of race/ethnicity.

But Colorblindness erases what makes the cultures that we come from different and beautiful.

It whitewashes all of that out.

It gives an out to not be diverse and ignores intersectionality which gives a voice to all different kinds of viewpoints and experiences.

Acknowledging that everyone has a different experience in this world that’s based on the color of their skin/sexuality/gender/ethnicity/etc. will allow us to identify and make changes to inequality.

But it will also help us see that we are all one spirit and celebrate what amazing human beings we are!

Quotes from Racism, Public Schooling, and the Entrenchment of White Supremacy by Sabina E. Vaught

Destroying Racism

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.

The news has been making me feel heavy lately. And what’s sad is that this isn’t even new. The word “news” implies that this is something new happening right now. But yet, this isn’t new at all.

A moment keeps coming back to me as I take in what’s happening (and happened) to our Black brothers and sisters.

I was in my junior year of high school, taking U.S. History. We were in the midst of learning about J.F.K and the Civil Rights movement. At the present, we were on the brink of electing our first Black president.

Our teacher posed a question to our class. She asked something on the lines of, should Kennedy have passed the Civil Rights Act, with his re-election coming soon? She then told us to go to one side of the room if yes, the other side if no.

I remember thinking right away, well heck yeah, of course! Black people have suffered through so much, before and after they were emancipated. Clearly, being freed from slavery wasn’t enough for them to be seen as equal in this country. Nothing was being done to try to help this group of people. And if Kennedy was as progressive as history made him out to be, this was his duty.

So I sat where I was, because the side of the room I was on was the side of yes, Kennedy should have worked on passing the Civil Right Act.

And then I watched my class move around me… to the other side of the room. Every. Single. One of them. I am not kidding.

So naturally, with me the only voice to the side I chose, our teacher asked me why I had chosen yes. And I explained exactly what I said above. Black people have waited long enough, it’s time. And if he’s worried about losing votes from white people, well there’s Black people to vote for him now (in my ideal mind back then).

She then turned to the other side of the room and asked them why they said no.

And the reason, I believe, is why it’s so hard for our country to be progressive. They said that Kennedy had to think about his voters. He already had the majority of the nation on his side, why rock the boat?

Rock the boat for who, exactly??? White people.

Why are any laws that benefit POC or any kind of minority deflected and unsupported. To keep white people happy. To keep them comfortable. To keep them feeling validated.

And after hundreds of years of validating only one side, one race, can you imagine what that can do to the people who have been belittled, dehumanized, deemed less than, for the same amount of time?

Now, I’m not happy that these riots are going on. I’m sad. I’m scared. I don’t think violence is ever an answer.

But as I see it, these riots that are happening is the same thing as when an abused and beaten animal lashes out. It’s enternalized so much violence within itself, it has no other way. Violence is the only way it knows how to protect itself.

And some are saying, “riots are no way to get things done, to make things better, to have other people come to your side and support you”.

People of color have tried every which way throughout history to get their voice heard. To show they are human, to show that they deserve to be treated as a human, with respect.

There have been protests, both violent and peaceful. Nothing.

There have been laws enacted that tells us we need to treat others with respect. Nothing.

There have been those who run for different offices of this country, trying to bring the voice of their people into the very institution that silences them. Nothing.

Like, we’ve had a Black president, a thoughtful, intelligent, patient man, who people still think of as being inhuman.

I’m frustrated.

I’ve been taking in everything that’s been happening and I can feel my body get hot and shaky and my heart beats faster and all these thoughts fly through my brain and it takes all of my energy to find my breath, and focus on that, to stay calm, to not use this energy in my body for negative actions, to write this post with a focus on writing my truth and not with hatred.

For those of you who are feeling how I’m feeling, let’s take this energy and put it towards educating ourselves. Education leads to understanding and understanding leads to love and love is the only thing that can destroy racism.

We live in a world where we have knowledge at our fingertips. Let’s work on thinking critically about what we see and hear. Let’s look inside ourselves and challenge our beliefs. There will be times when we feel uncomfortable, but that’s when we grow. And let’s vote.

I hope with all my heart that our country can find peace and balance. I get that, at this moment, we are overwhelmed with negativity. But peace shows itself here and there, like bright lights in the darkness.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.


If you need a call to action, DONATE!! Anything you can. A lot of us are not doing well during the COVID-19 crisis but if you are, please think about donating to a cause.

You think the only people who are people

Are the people who look and think like you

But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger

You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.

– “Colors of the Wind”, Pocahontas

George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice

P.S. I highly recommend this video of thoughts by Trevor Noah. I like to listen to what he says because he always comes from a place of looking at the big picture and reflection. It challenges me to think like that, to see all points of view.