July 22, 2016

I Need to Talk About America for a Minute

I love this country. 
It is an amazing place to live when you think about all of the other countries in our world. 
I am humbled and feel incredibly lucky that my boyfriend/partner, my grandfather, my father, and so many many others fought for us to live in this country.
I feel incredibly grateful that I was born here by random luck. God could have chosen me to be born into a brothel in Calcutta or into a family in North Korea. I am extremely lucky and I know it.
This country has been through so much from fighting against monarchy rule to fighting against enslaving another human being to fighting for women's rights and the rights of black Americans and LGBTQ Americans and beginning the long arduous process of restoring respect to Native Americans. We are a country of people who fight for ourselves. We are an amazing, amazing country. 
So it hurts me that I feel people are getting confused about what patriotism means. They get angry when someone says that we could change something and make it better. Wanting America to live up to its name is not about ensuring that only some of the people have these freedoms. And it is not about ensuring that we all go around punching people in the mouth with a bald eagle when they dare to stand up and say we could do better than we are doing because we are perfectly capable of it because this is the United States of America for goodness sake.(Read this: Patriotism v. Nationalism)  
And by better I do not mean better for white people only - such as the much-lauded Leave it to Beaver America of the 1950s white middle-class suburban neighborhood that oppressed women and blacks and in which people were having meltdowns about McCarthyism (which has had a resurgence in the last 8 years and we should totally be over by now) and those pesky people trying to redefine gender roles and sexuality and people building bomb shelters in the backyard.  Wasn't America GREAT? 
Or maybe the America of the 1980s Wall Street segment who got rich off of the backs of the working class and poor, and where Reaganomics tripled our national debt from one to three trillion dollars and widened the gap between the rich and the poor to an extent it has never recovered from.  Neither of these "great" experiences were had by most of America even during those decades. So when was America so great for anyone who wasn't white or male or heterosexual or wealthy or Christian? What exactly are people trying to take us back TO? 

America and America's right to freedom are for EVERY single American whether you like them or not. Right now not every single person has an equal amount of rights and freedoms even though they are supposed to. Many people and politicians are pretending this is not true because it makes them uncomfortable or it distorts their worldview or it means they might need to make some changes so every American is treated like a white man is treated (and, yes, white, straight, ci- men you have it the easiest, yes even with affirmative action, so please realize how much worse everyone else must have it if you still have it the best out of us all.)
I know, right?
See, just because most people are not racist or sexist or xenophobic in this country does not mean that racism and sexism and xenophobia do not exist in the country. Nor does it mean that these -isms cannot be executed in subtle ways that you might overlook if you are not the target. Nor does it mean that there are not still actual laws on the books both federally and in states that make it legal to oppress certain people because there absolutely are these laws. Not to mention just two months ago Obama signed a bill eliminating racist slang from federal laws. In 2016. 
Just because you personally don't experience an America that oppresses you in one way, big or small, does not mean it does not occur every single day. I've never experienced what it is like to leave the house without being judged sexually before I'm judged by the content in my brain or without worrying about getting raped just because I had the audacity to go to the gym in a tank top because there are some men who have never been taught that raping someone because you are in lust is immoral and illegal.  But I know that the experience of not worrying about these things exists because most men do not have these concerns. Boys, do you worry about being cornered by a gang of men each twice your strength looking to feel you up because you wore a sleeveless jersey to a basketball game?  No, not really?  So it IS possible to know an experience exists in this country and not have it ourselves. Radical notion, right?  I am sure your mind is blown. Facts can be crazy hard to deal with.
America is the best country we could possibly live in hands down, but that does not mean it is without flaws. Patriotism is about recognizing these flaws and loving the country so much that you continually strive to make it better.  Every American deserves to live in the same America and right now that is not the case. We should love our country and our people enough to continually move forward. 

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