Straight No Chaser: The Flag Issue

By Desi Cortez
Updated: September 20, 2008

DENVER — In a video posted on YouTube, Dallas Maverick Josh Howard is shown at a charity flag football game, AI’s actually, where the national anthem plays in the background. Howard approaches a camera and says: “‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is going on right now. I don’t even celebrate that (expletive). I’m black.”

OK, OK, OK…, here, let WEB DuBois translate….

One ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

First and foremost, Blacks, as a people, we’ve earned the right to express our dissatisfaction or annoyance with ….our country. We’ve paid our dues, in full.

We’ve more than earned the right to not love America. Enough of us have died in foreign wars, as we’ve died in US streets – at the hands of racist police to voice our views and opinions regarding this nation.

Nevertheless, let’s dismiss Josh as a meathead of a messenger; as a fool, as a clown: Howard, today awaiting court for driving like Speed Racer, also upset then-coach Avery Johnson by throwing himself a birthday party during last season’s first-round playoff series against New Orleans. So we know what we’re dealing with, another full grown teenager. So, let us focus on the message.

Let’s, from jump-street, acknowledge that the anti-American sentiment, the basic gut feeling of not being apart of the USA, ought to be an expected perception. It ought to be a given that millions of Afro-Americans must wonder….

How does my country feel about me, and deeper still, how do I feel about my country.

And yes, even if you’re a guy like Howard, raking in millions…. that doesn’t have to translate into I blindly love this country. Hollywood is full of well paid entertainers, of all colors, who’ve no love for the actions of the government we did not elect.

Not to mention, I listen to Republicans everyday express their anger with this nation if Senator Obama is elected. How the US will be going down the drain, and they’ll be packing-up to leave if the Illinois Senator is elected president.

That doesn’t sound too patriotic, honestly it sounds like abandonment and treason.

Of course, on paper, the USA is a beautiful concept. The thought itself is a “A+” term paper. One human… one vote, representative democracy, capitalism. But in reality, the actual USA, the everyday USA, the behind closed doors USA… is not a very pretty picture. Reagan’s Trickle Down theory is transforming the land of a-plenty into a nation of Land-Lords and ….Landless. Haves, and have-nots.

Considering the last 25 years in America, it’s far-fetched to imagine all, even most Black Americans would display a certain level of loyalty and respect for the United States flag – while, in the same breath, we represent those throughout the story of this country, who’ve, in the shadow of the Stars and Stripes, been oppressed, raped, murdered, pillaged, enslaved and exploited by the Euro-American majority, the self-anointed true Americans ….

Yes, the one and only authentic Americans, demand we love it, praise it, or leave it. Get the hell out, go back to Africa…

Howard, like most of his generation of Afro-Americans doesn’t feel the love peculating forth from the land of equality and liberty…. As a young Black American man….he is Public Enemy No. 1.

I apologize for being redundant, but I find myself reiterating the same rock solid facts – only because color, class and gender are at the core of so much which plagues the USA. Sports are no exception, truthfully, sports provide graphic insights into our national hangups.

For you caucasian chaps who fill my e-mail with ” die nigger die” letters, can you not confess what we all learned in middle school; Ol’ Glory flew over this nation as white guys – in a Jolly Rogers/skull & cross-bones manner – snatched the physical resources from American Natives and Mexicans, then extracted the wealth with the blood, sweat and tears of America ‘s only forced immigrants, African slaves.

That’s just the fact, Jack.

Today, the angry White establishment demands of colored folk – like Josh Howard’s slightly educated ass, who’s apart of a whole slice of Americans who got the short, hard , jagged end of the night-stick called redneck justice – we’re all suppose to forgive, and quickly forget the manner in which this nation has reached global prominence, and simply pledge our allegiance to its continued domination of the world…..

Least any of us forget, the Stars and Stripes these zealots are outraged Howard belittled…. they did sanction the “Trail of Tears” and “No Dogs – No Mexicans” signs. The same flag condoned Indian reservations and Japanese interment camps.

The Star Spangled Banner these Republicans demand Black folks hold in dear reverence….still today rationalizes racial profiling and police brutality. Betsy Ross’s needlework justified real estate redlining and broken treaties. Some say it still does….

I’m one of them.

Indivisible with liberty and justice for all – please, give me a blinking break. Who buys into such authentic frontier gibberish – but white people? How can they, this nation’s self-appointed nobility, the privileged class, ask, no – demand of second class citizens that we, one and all, acknowledge and even praise a symbol which represents a segregated and unequal nation?

A country where the American Dream is attainable for most folks of color and women – only if they can navigate their way through a white-male-made/ tactically laid-out mine field of racist, sexist and elitist obstacles.

Take away hoops…. hopefully, some of these privileged dudes understand Howard and 85% of the young Black men who comprise the NBA, would be either dead, making less than $25’000 a year, or in jail..

Forget going from rags to Rolls and Rolex …. Why? Because that’s sadly the most traveled path from the ghettos and burros for the average child of a darker persuasion. Maybe, just maybe Howard’s not letting his personal fortunes blind him to the fate of his peers?

Most Americans who’ve been on the receiving end of Anglo generated insults like Chink, spic, Nigger and Injun…..we well understand the complexity of our being an American; our sons and daughters can done the military uniforms of this country and defend “your” flag – while the current Republican, an alleged man-of-honor and dignity seeking the White House – opposed the State and national holiday for Dr. King.

These neo-conservative knuckle-draggers believe MLK to be a communist…a uppity nigger.

We “minorities” grasp the duplicity of mainstream USA – which doesn’t want our kids to socialize with your kids in schools, neighborhoods nor shopping malls, nonetheless….you do hope my son wants to serve as sacrificial pawns in Baghdad.

Its fine and dandy if Black and Brown kids want to die for Wall Street’s desire to monopolize the global market, lower the wages of worker’s world wide – but our kids still can’t buy a beer in trendy yuppie uptown/downtown pubs and sit and comfortably enjoy it.

White flight filled suburbia balks and bitches about putting money into …anything but their individual pockets, where they turn around and invest in the stock of private-for-profit prisons . . .

Please, at least kiss me when you….me.

When the vast majority of folks who look like Josh Howard, circa his age, when they stand to recite the pledge of allegiance, scores of them can’t help but wonder…

“If Oprah paid for cruise lines to transport all the non-white folks back to where-ever in the hell we hale from…. I bet you could count the very few White folks at the pier begging us not to go.”

One nation – under God? There’s not a ethnic group in this country which does not have an legit bone-to-pick with the Euro-American establishment. How can young folks, roughly Josh Howard’s age, believe anything. after this political season… not that this simpleton – who admitted in front of cameras last season – he is an occasional marijuana user – could pass a 9th grade Social Studies mid term test….

If nothing else, what this misguided, tactless numb-skull, Mr. Howard is expressing; angry white men no longer have the societal clout and influence to demand people adhere to your cultural whims and political wishes.

Those bogus orchestrated days are over. The assimilation the Right is demanding today sounds too close to the blind ass-kissing they use to mandate.

Black American have ceased to accept we can’t play the QB position because we are too dumb and can’t read defenses nor lead men. The same applies to golf and tennis, we no longer go along with the country club line, we’re too dumb to excel at these sports… Gee, we now dominate them both….

Josh Howard doesn’t know it, but in essence, what he was babbling about and what he exemplified was; there’ll be no more force-feeding of Columbus, the explorer, who stumbled upon islands – full of people.

The Fourth of July – independence for whom? Jesus, as a blond haired/blue-eyed Nordic Viking — come on man. Elvis as the King, get real, try James Brown or Jackie Wilson. One man’s terrorist – General George A. Custer, is another’s Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse or Cochise… freedom fighters.

When you weigh and measure Howard’s words, recall this DuBois line… “In my own country for nearly a century I have been nothing but a nigger.” Maybe deep down inside Howard’s head, he heard DuBois….