"Land of the." 2014. Mixed media collage
Ever since I can remember, I struggled with the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem. As a child, I never knew why. It felt forced. It felt like a lie.
And as I grew older and learned about the trauma of my ancestors; the real history that has been hidden intentionally; the wrongs that had never fully been recitified but transformed. It made sense.
"No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
This is the third stanza of the star spangled banner written by Francis Scott Key. Many are unaware.
"Land of the free? Home of the Brave? "
It never felt that it applied to anyone who looked like me.
I never felt comfortable participating in, "This is America" programs in elementary, year after year. Or a pioneer reenactment, for I knew that if I were alive during that time, I would be anything but free; who's to say I would even be alive.
The 4th of July celebration always felt like a party I was invited to, but wasn't for me but was for you.
I had many classmates, who showed great pride. They loved talking about how their ancestors settled here. Telling stories; showing pictures.
Because of Slavery I have only been able to trace back to my great great Grandparents of african decent (which consists the majority of my genetic make up). but have no problem tracing back my ancestors of european decent (another story for another day).
My whole life never considered a real American. Almost as to be conviced that this is not my home. I do not belong.
My ancestors never chose to be here. They were taken.
But you see, by acknowledging the roots of the weeds, knowing they exist and learning what encouraged them to grow are the first steps towards real healing.
Fortunately I know that I Matter. I have a voice. I get to choose. And I get to share my truth.