They call themselves "American" and we don't bat an eye. Sometimes we even cheer. There's no outward or subconscious rejection of the label. You're probably reading this and wondering where's this going? Think about it. American. Just American. Everyone else gets a hyphenated name but not them. African, Asian, on and on.. even the original known inhabitants are hyphenated; Native-American! Colonizers found them here, stole their land, decimated their people and claimed the American moniker for themselves while relegating the original inhabitants as "Native." Begs the question; Does "American" mean white?
We've been conditioned to think that the hyphen is a way to identify each other by race or heritage. Its not. It's another way to claim ownership over something that doesn't belong to them and to tell others you don't belong.
This conditioning has become clear to me during the recent p BLACK LIVES MATTER protests and the counter protests claiming all lives matter. I saw a video where dialog broke down and the "all lives" crowd, decorated with the American, flag began to chant U.S.A! U.S.A! It was weird. They couldn't agree that black lives were included in all lives, they wouldn't repeat the phrase BLACK LIVES MATTER. Instead, they countered "all lives matter" and that declaration eventually devolved into "U.S.A!"
It's anti-blackness. Plain and simple. For every valid point relevant to black issues, there is a counter point created to gaslight us and their followers into thinking our issues do not exist. The way they coopted "U.S.A!," patriotism, and "American," we should snatch their soapboxes. The civil right movement adopted this principle in the south, where the confederate flag flew high, civil rights leaders carried the American flag. It was a symbol of the movement! Today, we see people draped in it chanting U.S.A! To drown out reason and general good sense. Makes me laugh to think how they would react if we took over "all lives matter." What would their counter be?
That's a rhetorical question. I don't care. The whole point of decolonization is to get them out of our heads and focus on us.
That's why I combined an interpretation of the American flag and APOLOGETICALLY BLACK on the African-American. My way of saying neither this country nor this flag is yours to withhold from others. We may not appreciate its origin but we aren't going to let anyone wrongfully claim entitlement. We've had enough of that. We've experienced and witnessed too much to allow them to resocialize "whites only."
I want to see the look on their faces when they see the image of the flag/country exhibited on this shirt. I hope they swell up with pride before their minds connect the words. I want to short circuit some synapses. UNAPOLOGETICLLY BLACK combined with America?! They've weaponized every semblance of rule against us. We're expected to hate the way they do. After all this time and all the wickedness directed at the black community we persist. We're that stubborn flame you can't extinguish. Truthfully, we want to left alone. This shirt is really a reminder to us; our people that we belong. Let that light in you burn black people. People don't change because they see the light, they change when they feel the heat. It's our jobs as Griots, as torch bearers, as truth tellers, to ensure OURstory is perpetuated everywhere we stand.
Being black doesn't mean anti-American. However, for those of us on this decolonization journey, being black has become to mean anti-institutionalized racism, pro-equity, pro-justice just to name a few. African; unapologetic in our blackness, unapologetic in our love of self, 0URstory, our potential, our God. American; despite the attempts to deny us rights, dehumanize us and revise our history; American in spite of the hate towards us.
The racists can chant U.S.A all they want, this image won't run; its here to stay just like we are...and by the way we still carry Africa with us wherever we go. ọṣọ aṣa.