I’ll be brief because this isn’t an indictment.
It’s a sincere question that I’m genuinely curious about because I know not everyone shares the same vision of what it means to be a patriotic American. Not everyone agrees that it’s even right to be patriotic.
A patriot is someone who loves her country and is loyal to it.
Patriotism is national pride, love and devotion to your homeland, or rigorous support for your country.
In “Patriotism is for White People,” The Root’s senior reporter, Terrell Jermaine Starr, writes:
“The problem with narratives of American patriotism is that they ignore the fact that America was and is a colonial state. Colonial powers are violent and racist by their very nature. America’s military is not a protector of peace. It is an enforcer of colonialism. Indeed, black Americans have died in America’s wars but do not fully experience the freedom that comes with that sacrifice as white people do. Patriotism has never been a racially equitable experience because it was never designed to be.”
In “Patriotism is for Black People,” The Root’s reporter, Michael Harriot, writes:
“Patriotism is defined as ‘love of or devotion to one’s country.’ People are patriotic because this country offers so much opportunity and freedom. They come here to escape persecution. They move here to get rich. America inspires patriotism because it is powerful enough to defend its freedom and wealthy enough to offer economic opportunity. America didn’t become an economic international superpower because this country had great ideas or people who worked hard. Any qualified economist or historian will tell you that the thing that catapulted the United States from a brand-new country into one of the largest economies in the world was cotton.”
Should You Talk To Your Children About Patriotism?
- What is distinctive about the United States? What sets it apart from other countries?
- What values would you argue are distinctly American?
- When we celebrate American values, what values do we acknowledge?
- What values should we acknowledge?
- Are some American values more important or more significant than others? If so, which ones and why?
- To what extent do we embody those core values today?
- Has there ever been a time in history when we embodied those values more? Why?
- Has there ever been a time in history when we embodied those values less? Why?
- Teachers—what do you teach your students about patriotism and what it means to be a patriot?
- What does American patriotism mean to you?
Please answer these questions for yourself.
Please answer these questions for your children.
If you feel so inclined, I’d love you to share your answers with me and with us.