Patriotic

By Julia Lima, TIWP Student

tell me, america,
what does it mean to love one’s country?
is it unconditional adoration
the kind that comes with 
defense against 
any
threatening word?
is it the kind of devotion that is prideful,
claiming loudly to embrace its core values–
equality,
freedom,
justice–
the kind that boasts loudly over 
the silenced voices of those 
who have never experienced true equality,
who have never been freed from this nation’s horrid history,
who have never seen justice be served?
is it the kind of love 
that supposedly honors its people of all kinds
yet tells them
they don’t belong?
is it the kind of love that makes us stand for our star-spangled banner
and watch the colors pop and bang in the sky 
in memory of our liberation–
a liberation that freed only our white men?
is this the kind of love you desire, america?
is this the kind of love you need, america?
is this how to love one’s country?
by standing for a flag that waves ignorantly over our marginalized?
by singing our anthem to remind us of when white men of the past–
the white men who enslaved Black people, who degraded women, who spat on immigrants–
gained a victory?
by eating hot dogs in the summer
and driving boats on the lake
and telling neighbors to “go back to where you came from”?
is this love, america?

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