Racist Twitter Doesn’t Like It When We Burn Their Flag

I write this with the assumption that I’ll never run for President of these United States.

FROM ST. LOUIS: Last night, demonstrations erupted in the Shaw area of St. Louis. Hundreds gathered to denounce Vonderrit Myers’ killing. The passionate surge for justice comes on the dawn of the Ferguson October: Weekend of Resistance, a national call to action that’s expected to mobilize some 6,000-10,000 people in the embattled area. With the legacy of Mike Brown still lingering, and the anger at Darren Wilson still festering, tensions were high and apprehension was fierce.

Per usual, Twitter was the go-to for honest, on-the-ground, firsthand accounts of the bubbling situation. Protests started peacefully. However, police soon arrived in ominous riot gear, inciting unnecessary heat in an already precarious situation.

Riot GearPepper spray soon followed.

ToryAnd things got especially tense.

The situation defused when police retreated from the scene.

Militarized police and searing pepper spray are commonplace in these St. Louis streets. But what was particularly unique, and ultimately contentious, was the prevalence of flag burning.

Racist Twitter lost their shit. A nasty onslaught of racist tweets followed as people (like myself) retweeted these mesmeric images and videos of Black bodies exercising their right to free speech. In time, my mentions were dressed in racist glamour, with the common trope being that if I “hate this country so much, I should go back to Africa.” Very original.

I normally don’t engage with anonymous racist trolls. But given the anticipation of this upcoming weekend, I allowed myself to dabble.

This was towards the end of my Twitter tenure. In the beginning, I really did try to highlight the absurdity that people could get upset over flag burning, but were content, if not enthusiastic, about the death of Black children.

patriots pissed about flag burning

To me, a true patriot would be bothered by any state-sanctioned violence towards American citizens. But that’s just me.

I was further astounded that self-proclaimed patriots had very little working knowledge of constitutional rights.

first amendment

After a lot of head scratching, I decided to decipher what I could.

First things first, flag burning is protected under the First Amendment. That’s basic fact. The Supreme Court ruled so in Texas v. Johnson (1989). 

It’s an distressing reality for some. And I get it. For the blindly patriotic, the American flag serves as an infallible symbol of freedom, justice, and democracy. Tie in the red-blooded military ethos that embodies this nation, and suddenly, flag burning is not only disturbing, but culturally criminal.

Ok, I accept that. Why? Because my pro-Black politic is strengthened by my knowledge of the enemy. While the American flag is marketed to the masses as a noble beacon of Western exceptionalism, to me, it represents a network of government and private institutions deadset on Black destruction.

The underbelly of the American flag is not composed of magical capitalist unicorns. It’s soaked in the blood of my ancestors that literally developed and cultivated the economic prowess that America prides itself on.

Furthermore, when rabid patriotism is told to me, it’s usually from the mouths (and wallets) of the richest and whitest American men. Men who ardently refuse to acknowledge the deep history of my existence. That flag is forever tied to these men, and they’ve used their political and financial influence to lull the masses, particularly the white sector, into believing that flag is the end-all-be-all for American greatness.

White people are entitled to love that flag because they’ve benefited monumentally from the fiction it presents. White privilege affords them the space to ascend socially and politically, and the opportunity to economically prosper. They need never fight against a massive institutional regime, unless they’re members of the LGBTQ community. And even still, there’s no closet for skin color.

Myself and others with Black and Brown skin, are not readily afforded those privileges. We fought for ALL of our rights. They were not handed to us. They were not packaged for us. They were not given to us. We had to TAKE it from them. This very basic and seminal fact creates a sizable disconnect between us and that flag.

So when its burned in the streets of St. Louis, I’m not at all surprised. I don’t know the personal motivations of those protestors who decided to exercise their First Amendment rights, but I would imagine that a portion of their motives encircles disillusionment with the justice and legal systems that flag represents.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @BlackMusings. Get at us @BlkMillennials.

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9 responses to “Racist Twitter Doesn’t Like It When We Burn Their Flag

  1. I understand and greatly appreciate your views on not only this manner, but many others. I am a big fan of this blog and, as a young Black millennial, love the fact that there is a place on the internet that discusses a lot of the things I am currently going through, and for that I thank you.

    With that being said, I sometimes get very uneasy when (in my opinion, I could be mis-reading), it seems that you (or others who have shared similar views) say that it’s ok to act in ways that does not accomplish anything. I am a very forgiving, optimistic, some may say naive person, but I strongly live my life with the motto of “You can’t fight hate with hate”. I am in no way denying the fact that Black Americans today are still being treated like second class citizens, and that some entities in this country are set on destroying are culture and humanity. We should be angry, and we should protest.

    But why must we burn the American flag? Why must we give the racist police (I make this distinction because not all police are racist cowardly pigs, many are commendable and brave) more reason to cause harm to us? Violent protesting doesn’t help. Looting doesn’t help. Burning the American flag doesn’t help. Isolating ourselves from the rest of America won’t make things better. We should stand strong as a people, but should never turn away those Whites (or Hispanics, or whatever other race) who want to help us. Who believe in uniting this country and becoming co-existing Americans who understand each other issues, but will eventually look past the color of our skins. I love this country, even with all of it’s problems and it’s bloody history. With loving this country, I have to love everyone in it in order to really be able to achieve happiness. We need to stop fighting hate with hate, and start fighting hate with love. Like my father always says to me, “the best way to conquer your enemies is to show them kindness.”

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    • First of all, thank you so much for your comment and your support of BMM. I try not to comment on my blog posts, as I want to let my readers direct the conversation. But your comment really struck me.

      I think flag burning really up to the individual at hand. Although I’m in favor of the First Amendment, flag burning isn’t *really* my form of protest.

      This post merely serves as a way for people to understand why an African American person would choose to burn the American flag, a form of expression that is completely within their rights.

      Personally, I think burning the American flag sends a very strong message that this country has failed us; which it has.

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      • Thank you for your response. I completely appreciate your point. This post, among your many others, helps serve as a reminder to me of the multiple sides of an argument. I tend to alway lean toward the most peaceful and diplomatic side, while understanding there may be times when more drastic measures need to be taken. i just really always want people, especially our people, to know that there are multiple, even more powerful ways of expressing their anger and frustration.

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  2. I never see Blacks burning the flags until now and it has a reason why they’re doing. They’re tired of being neglected, ignored, mistreated, judged unfairly by a country that has nothing to do with them except killing them (if they have a chance). They need to be respected and if they’re not getting in the good honest way, they are getting the other way, the violent way.

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  3. You can run for president still. Reporting on what’s happening in your time shouldn’t hinder your leadership, unless you allow others to usurp your power. Don’t let them speak for you. If you don’t want to be president or go into politics,ok. That’s different.
    The flag burning happens sometimes and the flag saluters always get nervous. That polarization is timeless. Currently the symbol of burning the flag scares some people into thinking the black community is going to go the way of ISIS. And the white system that is preying on people of color systemically will love that image taking place so that they can call people of color extremists and continue to beat, shoot, kill and imprison black men. The extreme image can be useful to grab attention but it can’t sustain that attention and expect unity of a movement. Malcolm X learned before his assassination people needed something besides the fear… he didn’t carry his gun to his last speech… and I know nobody wants a history lesson…
    You did a good job explaining why people want to burn the flag. The fabric symbol is not the equivalent of the human lives that were taken. And yet… as Bob Marley sang about Buffalo Soldiers, black men fought for this soil and the American flag and earned the right, fought for the right, died for the right to salute it as their own. They did this for themselves and their families and their children, not for white oppression.
    Tressiemic has a essay Thoughts on a theory: New Media & Presentation http://wp.mep28iGT-13u posted on oct 9… that you might find interesting as a user of twitter and as an activist- journalist… I had some difficulty at first understanding what she was saying, until after reading your post. Anyhow, Tressie is good people with useful ways of observing and using media.
    Not that you have to answer, but for consideration, I’m curious if there is anything moving in the right direction as you see it for the social justice in Ferguson and beyond…
    As in do you see changes being made in the police department on the horizon, for example? Are people organizing to do more than protest…? The people are going to need to figure out how they want to take care of each other and then make demands of each other before real institutional changes take place. Because as a people, who do you want to be? What does it mean “justice”? What does it look like?

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  4. Really sad that a few outraged people think it’s OK to burn the American flag. It was probably some anti-American in the background inciting this incident. Which, is very easy to do with a mob mentality. Flag burning is an act of treason, but hey, what do I know. I’m just a Black American who happens to love her country despite its history. There is no better place in the world to live because at least God is here. Try finding him in other parts of this strange, evil world. It is not OK to burn the flag under any circumstances. It is not OK for racists individuals to use this as a way of spurting out their venom. it is not OK for the national media to ignore this as if it’s justifiable, while at the same time trying to incite people by showing the footage. For shame on all of us! For shame.

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    • you are a fucking idiot, at these point, millions of “americans” flags had been burn ALL OVER THE WORLD. Being “anti- american” as you said, is being anti- white supremacist, which you obvioulsy are not.

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