I haven’t always felt like a proud or patriotic American. Perhaps it was a combination of my time living abroad, my global studies major academics, and my growing understanding of the inequities and injustices that our nation was founded upon . . . for a while, I just wasn’t comfortable aligning with the patriotic American identity.
Over the years I have come to feel more and more proud to be an American. Some of it has been a strengthened connection with our country’s leadership but most of it has been re-framing what being a “good American” even is.
I feel like “patriotism” is a word that has been co-opted by the folks who are constantly calling to “take our country back”. (Um, what do y’all want to take it back to/from!? Would that be before women were in the work place? Slavery? Or, segregation days? Oh, or do you mean all the way back – before we stole land from Native Americans? Because that would be an America where y’all don’t really exist?)
My patriotism doesn’t look like that. It comes in the form of a civically engaged, socially aware, vocal and caring woman.
Speaking out about making our nation more fair and just is patriotic.
Talking about the importance of women’s rights, looking critically at our education systems, highlighting double standards, educating myself and sharing information about things that we didn’t learn in history classes is patriotic.
Working closely with students and women to uplift and inspire. Supporting them in their pursuits to be the best they can be is patriotic.
Contributing to my nation’s economy as a small business run by a woman is patriotic.
Becoming more politically engaged locally (thank you, NLC) is patriotic.
Voting and talking about voting with students and peers is patriotic.
Working with au pairs from abroad and supporting them during their time here in the US is patriotic.
I have discovered that there are multiple ways to stand with one’s country and I feel proud of the ways I can express my patriotism. Always with support, pride, and celebration but never without critique, conversation, and acknowledgement of history.
AMERICA: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
So, in line with my speak-up-speak-out brand of patriotism, I feel it's my duty as a citizen of our nation and world to both celebrate what I find great about our country and give voice to my issues and concerns with our nation. In mostly seriousness (with some colorful additions), here's my current good, bad, ugly list for America. . .
THE GOOD (& GREAT):
1. Our diverse and multicultural population
2. Festivals (the small town Applefest variety & the ones here in New Orleans!)
3. Plus-sizes available in many stores
4. Our more holistic approach to higher education and student affairs
5. President Obama & the First Family
6. Free refills
7. The state & national park system
8. Our entrepreneurial spirit
9. Marriage equality
10. Breakfast & brunch foods
1. General lack of knowledge and/or interest in global geography, history, or current events
2. The absence of quality public transportation in most of the country
Celebration & Critique
Hope you all are ejoying 4th of July! Like most of my American holiday well-wishes. . . on this day I hope you celebrate the beauty of our nation while not forgetting to think critically about the injustices that our country was founded upon and still impact us today. Plus, i hope you have some good food and great drinks with folks you love!