Years ago, I commented on a friend's behavior as being "typically American." To which she responded, "Weren't you born and raised here?"
While this was true, many times, because of my appearance, it had been assumed that I was born on foreign soil. I was immediately struck by how I had unknowingly internalized this into my own identity as an "atypical American."
Am I less "American" or patriotic because I root for more than one country in the Olympics? (I have a list that begins with the United States, followed by countries where I have family and then rounded out with countries to which I have traveled and enjoyed the experience.) Whether mixed, "hapa," multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-national or not, celebrating all cultures and fighting for equality is not the same thing as legislating to ensure supremacy...
Years earlier...during spring break in the late 90's, while walking along the beach in Zihuatenejo, Mexico, two curious teens approached me and asked, "De dónde eres?" I replied, "Los Estados Unidos." They were puzzled. "Pero, cómo? Tú eres morena!" (Translation: "Where are you from? The United States. But how can that be? You are brown!")
The "Multinational Patriot Flag Series" is dedicated to those international friends who could not believe I was from the U.S. and especially dedicated to my “brown” Canadian friends who I couldn’t believe were from Canada... Ahem… I own mine. We all have work to do...
This series grows from the desire to see American icons used in a way that represents the United States as the melting pot that it is. As several fellow tweeters observed, images of the U.S. flag, bald eagles and the like are often displayed in profiles throughout social media to indicate a specific brand of patriotism. Too often, many of these "patriots" lack an inclusive view of what “American” is. Unfortunately, this restrictive point of view is not limited to social media profiles... As a child, I remember watching my father, who served 20 years in the Air Force, quietly replace our flag each time it was stolen from our porch by our "neighbors." To this day, I am still conflicted when expressing my "patriotism."
So, I'm saying it loud... I am unapologetically black and I love kim chi and watermelon... (hey...it's a start).
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