To Be Anti-American is to Be Anti-Black | Opinion

As we approach our nation's 245th birthday, the United States of America remains the greatest nation to ever exist in the world. But statements like this are seen as problematic by many—including many Americans.

Of course, self-criticism is one of the hallmarks of a healthy and robust society. But these days, we seem to be in overdrive. American patriotism is on the decline. According to a Gallup poll taken on Independence Day last year, American pride is the lowest it's been since Gallup started measuring it in 2001.

How did we get here? To me it seems like we've collectively lost sight on what it means to be an American. We forget the luxuries, the grandness of our rights, and we focus on the shortcomings, the inconveniences. We forget the triumphs and we focus on the tribulations.

We have gotten so comfortable and accustomed to the pleasantries of being a citizen of the United States of America that we take these very things for granted. We've become entitled, the spoiled rich kids no one likes.

We have taken the hard work, struggles, and sacrifices of our parents for granted. They did whatever they could to give us the life that they couldn't have, and instead of appreciating it, we scoff at how imperfect it is, not realizing the life we have is what so many people everywhere would kill for.

When you are so accustomed to something that you have an unconscious, involuntary expectation of it, you tend to lose focus on how thankful you should be for it as well.

We have forgotten how to be grateful for being American. Which means we have forgotten what it means to be an American.

What it means is to live in a country where you are allowed to be openly candid about your distaste for political leaders while making a great living from simply expressing these views.

It means living in a country where you can even express your displeasures about how oppressed you are while in the possession of myriad luxuries.

Imagine being poor in a country where you comfortably own a television and a car. Actually, imagine being poor in this same country but still having a much better life than most of the people elsewhere in the world.

It's true, we Black Americans derive from a turbulent past full of subjugation and bondage, lynching and dispossession. But within 100 years of the abolishment of their enslavement, through perseverance and resolve, our ancestors created one of the greatest political movements of all time. This is what it means to be an American.

It means living in a country where your ancestral roots connect you to people who were a major part of the growth and development of that nation, where it was our ancestors, dispossessed though they were, who forced this country to make good on its promise of liberty and justice for all.

Being American means being a descendant of great men and women who revolutionized what it meant to be a great countryman through their ultimate sacrifices. It means you can be descended from these people and still having the freedom to say that seeing people fly the flag that your ancestors made greater is disturbing.

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A man holding an American flag and wearing a jacket that reads "this is what democracy looks like" is pictured following a "March of Silence" and call for a statewide general strike in support of all Black lives in Seattle, Washington on June 12, 2020. JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Being American means representing our country during an Olympic trial while the world watches and having the freedom to protest your country by turning your back on the flag because you feel that the country's national anthem has never spoken for you.

Only the greatest country on earth could produce such an event.

The United States of America is not a perfect country, but it is our country, the country of Black Americans and all other Americans. And with every generation that passes, it gets better than it has ever been.

Despite a turbulent past full of injustice, the United States remains a place where people from all over the world will risk life and limb to find new beginnings here. As we continue to remind ourselves about the imperfections of our nation, we have a duty to also remind ourselves about the things that make our nation the greatest nation in the world.

We've forgotten about the past sacrifices made and the lives lost, which have afforded us a life resplendent with privileges and rights. It's time to recognize why we should be grateful.

Barrington D. Martin II is the founder of the United Alliance PAC and a former Congressional Candidate for the Fifth District of Georgia.

The views in this article are the writer's own.