Is THIS my America?
This painting accurately reflects the way I felt about the United States before Barack Obama was elected. I was pleasantly shocked and surprised that the US could stifle its racism enough to send a black man to the White House. Inauguration Day 2009 was the first time I truly felt American.
Yet Obama’s presidency has revealed the worst of America. The veil has lifted. This land, so full of promise, can’t let go of its 17th century hangups long enough to live up to its 18th century rhetoric, its 19th century amendments, nor its 20th century ideals.
The 21st century is here and though the 3/5 compromise is no longer the law, its fractional factoring still applies. Do the math. Examine the disparities in income and wealth and education and opportunity and justice.
Is this what my ancestors slaved for? Is this the flag my father defended? Those red stripes represent the blood of MY people, shed to build your roads and your institutions and your army and your capital. Black bodies swinging in Southern trees or lying lifeless on Northern sidewalks or locked in prison cells.
This IS my America. THIS is what America has always stood for, building its wealth and power on the backs of the poor and the Cherokee and the Yoruba and the Iraqi and the Mestizo.
This IS my America. And if you remove from your eyes the flag that you’ve wrapped around yourself, you will see. This is YOUR America too.
Painting by Patrick Campbell Art/Illustration