Patriotism means loving your country, it does not mean just liking it. Love is different than like. It runs much deeper.
Love is shown first and foremost by actions. No greater love can be shown for your country than to die for it. The very first man to die in America’s fight for freedom was Crispus Attucks, a black man who was killed during the Boston Massacre in 1770. Blacks have fought and died in every war since then. Not just as conscripts but willingly too. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whom many feel is not a patriot but I believe he is, joined the Marines. The Marines.
Love is shown by working to make your country a better place. America is a much freer and better place because of the civil rights movement. America is a richer place because of all the work blacks have put into it, as both slaves and freemen – and because of what they have created, like jazz and hip hop.
Love is shown by seeing its faults with a clear eye, by seeing the country as it truly is and not as it is in storybooks or on television. Any country is going to have faults and crimes and dirty little secrets. America is hardly any different. To refuse to see that is not love but betrayal.
Love is also shown by having faith in its future, its promise. From Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King, Jr to Barack Obama and millions of ordinary people, blacks have shown a profound faith in America’s promise.
By all these measures blacks love America. They have shown faith in it when there was no sensible reason to have faith. They have fought for it in wars only to come back home to riots or Jim Crow or no work, to be told in a thousand and one ways they are not as good as white Americans. Or even to be told they are not true Americans!
If blacks do not love America, no one does.
Whites seem to get hung up on two points:
First, some whites seem to think blacks should hate America because of what it has done to them. They have every right to, and a few do, but most do not. It is their country too. Their love is not a pure, childlike love, or the love a wife might feel for a husband who has always been true, but it is still love.
Second, some whites seem to think that to say anything bad about America means you must hate it, that you cannot love it. That is called like, not love. If that was how love works, marriage would become impossible. Prisoners would never be visited by girlfriends and family members. A true love of country is stronger and deeper than that.