That Damn Flag: My Thoughts On #PrayforParis

 

When I looked at my phone after work on Friday, I was horrified when I read there had been a terrorist attack in France. Instantly, I went looking for more information and kept refreshing my phone for updates. I shared my condolences and kept it moving for the most part. Then, it started. One by one, I was seeing red, white and blue everywhere. But, it wasn’t old glory. Facebook unveiled a new feature that let people watermark the French flag over their pictures as a display of solidarity.

This was the prelude to other foolishness to follow.

The hotep squad got wind of it and the memes started flying. Accusations of Black folks being sheep, not carrying enough about each other and having screwy priorities. Ya know, usual ankh shenanigans. After watching numerous Facebook rants, raves and arguments, I’m tired. I haven’t said anything on my own page and stuck to sharing other people’s commentary until now.

My opinion fall somewhere in the middle. On one hand, I have no issue with anyone, Black or otherwise, mourning the people that were killed and expressing solidarity with the survivors. My heart aches for everyone involved especially the people who will carry the mental scars of witnessing something so horrific. On the other? Fuck the French flag. That flag isn’t a symbol of solidarity. It is a calling card for a nation that has participated in the colonization of other nations. It represents the murder, maiming and plundering of millions of people. France colonized Haiti in 1659 and when the Black and colored residents of Haiti fought for and gained their independence in 1804, France demanded they pay for their uprising with money. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere because they are still suffering the after effects of that tyranny. France has also instituted colonial taxes for other former colonies in Africa. In recent years, France has been a hub of conflict after passing a series of laws that criminalizes Muslim head covering and fosters an environment rife with xenophobia and Islamophobia.

I cannot, in good conscience, plaster their flag all over my profile like everything is Gucci. I don’t even extend that courtesy to the American flag.

My prayers and vibes are directed to the people of France. The people who were going about their lives until their security was shattered by bombs and bullets. My heart aches for them. But France, as a government and imperialist power, can kiss my ass.

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