After studying American symbols and landmarks in his Kindergarten class, my son came to me and asked for a flag. An American flag. He thought it was the prettiest flag of them all and wanted to hang it up in his room. Many of you are probably shrugging your shoulders and thinking, “And? What’s the big deal?”
The deal is:
- We are African American.
- We are very well educated in our American history (even the shitty Jim Crow/Japanese internment camp parts.)
- When he asked for the flag we were fresh off of the 2016 elections where an asstool was elected in to the highest office in the land; and the bigots, kluxers, and white power zealots were dancing in the streets.
- America was nestled firmly on my shitlist at the time.
With all this being taken into consideration…surprisingly… I did not immediately say no to my child. All of these things ran through my head. All of the anger that was inside of me started bouncing around like a tiny rage filled rocket. I didn’t let the kid see this though. I didn’t go into a diatribe about how for the last eight years it seemed as if we as a nation had come so far and now it looked as if it was all falling backwards at a breakneck speed. He is only six. And while he is very smart and I’m sure he would understand many of the facts – at this time – I don’t think he needs to know any of them. He will learn in due time that while there are many things that make America great, there are many things that this country has done and will do that make it a downright shit show. He will learn that once upon a time people had to sit on the back of the bus based on the color of their skin. He will learn that women and minorities have not always been able to vote. He will learn that not that long ago his best friend’s two mommies could not be married. He will learn that these bovine, inbred, backwoods ass concepts were the law of the land.
Because he will learn the bad things – I need for him to learn the good things first. He will know that his great-great-grand father and great-grandfather became doctors in this country when that was RARE. He will learn that 4th of July fireworks are awesome and so is apple pie. He will learn that spending an entire Saturday in your pajamas is considered a successful day in our house. He will know that there are many races and religions represented in this country and they make fabulous friends and neighbors. He will know that all of those things, when you boil it down, mean happiness and freedom and that is what that flag stands for. And I mean happiness and freedom for ALL just in case you were wondering.
That is what the flag, that he so eagerly asked me for, stands for. So when he asked me for the flag I looked at his little round face and asked, “A little flag or a big flag?” Of course he wanted big – so big is what I bought. Since it arrived, he has learned how to properly display the flag, fold the flag, and the ceremony for destroying a flag when it is past its prime. My brother who is a retired U.S. Air Force vet has offered to make the trip with us to the local American Legion where they will do it for us.
When the time comes he will learn why people will sometimes fly the flag upside down. Or why some people will burn it and how it is their right to do so if they choose. As his parents we have those conversations now. Those are some heavy discussions; and we think they will be made a wee bit lighter with the knowledge of what good can be found in those stars and stripes. Call me a tree hugging optimist but I know this country has more than a few things going for it. They are why we live here. They are why we gave birth to him here. They are what we work hard for and champion every day. They are why this flag flies outside of our front door.
Waving our flag proudly,