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 United States 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.
This episode, we spoke with:
Gabriel Torres, a U.S. military veteran
Pedro Rios, a longtime activist who participated in the 2006 immigration rights protests
Gil Sanchez, protester at a Donald Trump rally
Victor Valledares, protester at a Donald Trump rally
Anthony and "America," a Mexican-American couple at a Donald Trump protest
Joe Taylor, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation, Vietnam veteran
Geri Wisner, Marine and citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation
Jill Greer, a sociologist at Missouri Southern State University
Nokose Foley, flag song singer
Adrian also takes us to a rally for Donald Trump where Gil Sanchez was protesting the candidate while waving a Mexican flag. Sanchez participated in the historic immigrant rights rallies in 2006.
"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.