It’s the Fourth of July… err, was (#CPT) and it has us over at Code Switch thinking a lot about flags. More specifically, on this week’s episode of the podcast, we’ve been thinking about people of color and their relationship to the American flag — a relationship that can be really complicated for a lot of reasons.
Who is the American flag for? And what does it mean when people of color choose to wave it — or not wave it? In thinking about what the flag has represented symbolically, and whose freedoms it did — and didn’t — fly for, those questions seem to be messy ones.
Gene and Adrian talked to some folks of color who both choose to and choose not to wave the American flag. That includes American Indians, who proportionately have more people in the U.S. military than any other racial group — there were over 22,000 on active duty in 2012, with over 150,000 veterans — but who also, of course, have a long complicated history in the United States. American Indian tribes sing to the American flag, and these aren’t just throw away songs. Flag songs open tribal ceremonies, and are directed at both tribal flags and the stars and stripes. But they commemorate not so much the nation, but their people.
Adrian also takes us to a Trump Rally where Gil Sanchez, who 10 years ago was waving an American flag at the historic immigrant rights rallies in Los Angeles, was now choosing to wave a Mexican flag. His relationship to the American flag has everything to do with, well, other people’s perception of his relationship to the flag.
“It doesn’t matter what happens. If they hate Mexicans, they’re going to hate Mexicans, whether you’re carrying an American flag or a Mexican flag,” says Sanchez. “That’s my feeling. They already hate us, the ones that hate us.”
For the people who historically have not been part of the promise the flag represents, pledging allegiance or waving the flag becomes a complicated act. So join us for this episode as we unpack what the American flag means — and doesn’t mean — for people of color.
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.