Last summer I attended the Caribbean Festival in Charlotte, NC. As I walked through the park, my senses were tickled with the smell of food, the bumping of the speakers of people selling music mixing with the melodies of the singers onstage. My eyes were filled with the colors of flags and t-shirts of proud people representing and celebrating their Caribbean background.For a mere moment, as I blended with the crowd listening, smelling, and smiling, I became envious. I wanted something that they had...a sense of pride. I wanted to be proud to wear the colors of my history. I desperately wanted to identify with that feeling.
Then it hit me...when I went to the African festival, I felt that same pride amongst the Africans as they represented their countries by offering delicacies and crafts. In fact, there's the same feeling at the Indian festival, Latino festival, Greek festival...well, you get the point.Where is our flag? I'm not talking about grasping on to Africa and celebrating our culture from that aspect.
That's fine, but it is not "our" flag...the African-American or Black flag. I know we made up our own red/black/green flag back in the '80's, but I'm not sure if it represented that pride that I saw at the Caribbean festival...if so, we'd be pridely swinging it at our own festivals. One thing I noticed at the festival, besides a flag, everyone had a deep sense of identity. They knew who there were and they knew where they came from.As I ride through neighborhoods and look at my people staring me down from their porches, young brothers not moving from the middle of the street and daring drivers to hit them, I wonder to myself..."Do they know who they are?" Unfortunately, the answer is "no."
As Susan L. Taylor said, "Learn your history...we have won wars...wars against racisim, against Jim Crow...if you knew who you really were, you'd pull up your pants and run this world!" If we had that pride and that sense of identity and belonging then would things be different? If we were taught our history thoroughly and not represented only as a people who were happy and shiftless slaves and emphasized the great thinkers, revolutionaries, inventors, and radicals then just maybe things would be different.But, there's still nothing like that tangible flag that gives hope to a people. (You can see the evidence of how people made a big thing about Obama turning his back on the American flag or not wearing a flag pin during the elections.)
How many young brothers and sisters are eager to swing the red/white/blue as eagerly as they wave their T-shirts like a helicopter? It doesn't give them hope, promise or pride...it reminds them of betrayal, hurt and a painful past (present). We don't get the same feeling as our Caucasian counterparts about the American flag.
But, if we had our own flag... I wonder... just maybe we could be celebrating with that sense of pride, too.
Alicia Williams, author of Up From Rock Bottom
www.bigdoorllc.com and www.askaliciadiane.com
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