Mya Jefferson: What is Black patriotism?

By Mya Jefferson The Black Lens

America has a long history of claiming lay to certain rights and promises. Certain rights and promises that would be denied to millions because of the color of their skin.

As African Americans do we choose allegiance to our race or our nation? That’s the double consciousness we as a people have to face with the past and present racism in America. Many figures have fought to change and better the nation. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for equality, and Fredrick Douglass challenged America to live by its principals and freedom. Black patriotism is a way to embrace a more inclusive vision of what it means to be American.

Black patriotism also finds expression in cultural contributions that enrich the American tapestry. From literature to music, from art to sports, African Americans have shaped and influenced the nation’s cultural landscape. These contributions are not just artistic expressions but also assertions of belonging and a demand for recognition of Black excellence.

African American patriotism is a complex topic to cover due to all of the factors that go into it. It really is a resilient and multifaceted expression of love for our country although it’s also intertwined with a quest for justice, equality, and culture. We’ve continuously challenged and reshaped the nation, in a multitude of ways, such as the nations understanding of democracy and freedom, as well as fashion, food and slang.

All throughout history, African Americans have enriched the tapestry of American patriotism, to create a path that gets longer and thicker, toward a more inclusive future for citizens of all colors. African Americans have consistently demonstrated unwavering loyalty and pure dedication to the ideals of freedom, justice and equality.

From the heroism of black soldiers and veterans in the Civil War fighting for emancipation, to the groundbreaking African American figures like Bayard Rustin and Shirley Chisholm, alongside others during the Civil Rights movement, their contributions have been pivotal in shaping the nation’s conscience and progress.

Through cultural achievements in expressive art, music, literature, sports, fashion and food, African Americans have not only celebrated our heritage, but also changes to America, and the challenges we force upon this nation too live up to its promise toward liberty and justice for all.

Our patriotism is shown and more so vividly expressed through a rich tapestry and huge variety of traditions, forms of unique art and movements that support and celebrate our culture as well as our heritage. For example, music has and will continue to play a very important role in such, with genres like gospel, jazz, blues and hip-hop, all of which expresses a powerful, vibrant flower of hope. Artists similar to Kendrick Lamar, Tupac Shakur, Nina Simone, and Marvin Gaye have used their influence, platform and music as one big place to spread hope, and a sense if patriotism rooted in desire to see American live up to its ideas.

Due to the upcoming events for the Fourth of July, I think it’s time to reflect on the contributions of the countless Black soldiers who fought in America’s wars, dating from the Revolutionary all the war towards the Civil War, even toward the conflict of present day, despite facing heavy discrimination and racism. They fought for something that in fact, was not theirs. As this day is also an opportunity to acknowledge the bravery and courage that Civil Rights leaders like Fredrick Douglass. In this present day, celebrating Black patriotism on the Forth of July can and should involve showcasing Black cultural contributions through our expressions through art.

This day is about recognizing the ongoing journey moving toward a more conclusive society while not only promising love and commitment, but loyalty as well.

Mya Jefferson is a student at West Valley High School and a founder of the communitywide Black Student Union.