“I am proud to be an American” is a phrase that I have heard for years during monumental times in our country. However, as an African-American male who grew up in the 70’s, I have never been one who believed in the phrase. Being proud of a country with so much injustice toward minorities makes it hard for the phrase to resonate with me. The struggles our country has faced such as racism, omission of certain images in our society, and the lack of empowerment of minorities in our country is the main reason I was never able to relate to such a statement.
However, as soon as the 30th Summer Olympics hit the air-waves and I began to watch the various minority athletes excel and dominate, I had a change of heart. I have been watching athletes like volleyball superstar – Destinee Hooker, female gymnast – Gabby Douglas and both male gymnasts – John Orozco and Danell Leyva. They are the reasons these Olympics mean so much to me. And the more and more I watch these athletes perform on as grand a stage as the Olympics, “I am proud to be an American” is starting to have meaning for me.
At the age of 40, I questioned whether or not I would be “proud to be an American.” Our country’s history is steeped with instances of injustice toward minorities and this has prevented me from truly grasping the idea of pride towards my nation. However, the pride I feel in seeing our Olympians who represent the U.S.A. who are providing images of people of color, remind me of myself and do indeed help make being proud of the U.S.A. a reality.