Usually when the American government is receiving criticism, some of its white citizens will immediately interject that if you don’t like the country you should leave or “go back”. I’ve always had a problem with that notion. After Colin Kaepernick did not stand during the national anthem due to the injustices people face under the flag, a lot of American citizens repeated the “If you don’t like it, leave” rhetoric. Why is this such a parroted slogan among white Americans?
First of all, telling black people who were historically enslaved and taken to America to now “go back” is insensitive, especially when a lot of us don’t know exactly which country we came from. Instead of actually addressing that there is an issue in America, the suffering people have to leave the country? Why is there more stress to get us to leave instead of more stress to see that racism still exists? Historically, black people built America’s wealth, and are owed trillions of dollars for unpaid labor. Please gofundme my reparations so I can “go back”, and include traveling funds if it bothers you so much.
Those who tell others to leave America if they dislike injustice, are saying that from a privileged position or from a perspective that is oblivious to issues as deep as racism. What kind of government ignores their citizens being oppressed? “Leaving the country” doesn’t aid actual change, it just sweeps issues under the rug. It also implies that America has no flaws whatsoever, therefore why fix what isn’t broken? America brags about being all about freedom, liberty, and equal rights for all, however disrespects the people living in the country. Why is freedom of speech only valid to disrespect people of color, and not addressing the injustices they face? Kind of hypocritical….
If you love the country, you would want it to improve. If you love the country you care enough to see that there is something wrong with how people are being treated, and you want to work to change it. If you want to silence people and ignore America’s issues, then you don’t love the country. That shows that you would rather watch America fall in her ignorance than move from your position of privilege and comfort.
A lot of the time, people who criticize how they are being governed aren’t “complaining” about one minor incident. It’s usually a compilation of problems that have been going on for years and have not changed yet. When your country is built off of the oppression of people and those same people face injustice to this day, there is plenty to “complain” about.
I’ve seen and heard people say “Oh well you should be grateful for your American rights.” There’s that notion from White America about being “grateful” again. It has always been a tactic used against black athletes and celebrities alike quite often. It says that it is best to ignore what black people are going through because we have so much to be “grateful for”, like the basic rights we had to die to get. But if you notice, the black celebrities and athletes are also mistreated. They are called racial slurs and are mocked daily. It was so ironic that people were slandering Colin Kaepernick, then proceeded to tell him about his American rights. Then does he not have a right to protest? Why is standing up an issue? American citizens have a right to protest. American citizens have a right to criticize their government. American citizens have the right to go as far as overthrowing the government if it becomes tyrannical. Why is it when black people exercise the right to protest, freedom of speech, and criticizing government, it no longer applies? Maybe because we aren’t considered citizens.
(Follow Nzinga Muhammad on Twitter @QueenNzinga13)